BET actor Bert Belasco died on November 8, 2020, at the age of 38. His father, Bert Sr., told TMZ that the Henrico Police Department found his son’s body in a hotel room in Richmond Virginia, where he was quarantined ahead of a new movie role.
At the time, Bert Sr. said he believed his son died of a fatal aneurysm. He said a coroner confirmed on Tuesday that Belasco died of “hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.”
Belasco’s family told the news outlet that the coroner said he had an aortic aneurysm – a balloon-like bulge in the aorta that carries blood from the heart through the chest and torso.
Belasco was best known for his role as Charles Whitmore on BET’s Let’s Stay Together.
Florida-based cardiologist Dr. Leonard Pianko told Health, “The aorta is a major artery that carries the blood upstream to the brain or downstream to the rest of the body. An aortic aneurysm is an abnormal weakening of the aortic wall that causes it to balloon out and is seen as a bulge on a chest X-ray.”
He explained that an aortic aneurysm has many possible causes, including “hypertension, rheumatic fever, atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), diabetes, or rheumatological or connective tissue conditions like Marfan syndrome, a genetic connective tissue disorder.”
In some cases, the cause is idiopathic, while others may be congenital, meaning patients have it since birth.
One of the challenges with an aortic aneurysm is that patients are symptomatic and it often grows slowly, making it difficult to detect.
Dr. Pianko said, “Typically, the aneurysm is found incidentally on a routine unrelated medical test such as an MRI, CT scan, chest X-ray, or echocardiogram.”
Patients with a ruptured or dissected aneurysm will experience severe chest pain along with cold, clammy skin, and dizziness, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate, and shock.
A ruptured aortic aneurysm is an emergency condition that requires immediate medical attention.
“The main focus is to keep your blood pressure levels low to avoid a rupture or expansion of the aorta,” Dr. Pianko explained.
In most cases, a ruptured aneurysm is fatal, and “this causes your blood pressure to plummet, followed by massive internal bleeding,” Dr. Pianko explained. “This is usually fatal unless you have emergency surgery.” The article was originally published in Health.