The Ultimate Warrior’s cause of death revealed in autopsy

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MARICOPA COUNTY, AZ — The Ultimate Warrior, one of the biggest stars of wrestling during the 1980s and 1990s, died of heart disease, according to the Maricopa County (Ariz.) medical examiner’s office.

Warrior, 54, collapsed outside a Scottsdale, Ariz., hotel last Tuesday while walking with his wife Dana. He made his first appearance on “Monday Night Raw” in 18 years the night before his death.

Warrior, 54, died of “atherosclerotic/arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease” and of natural causes, which means no drugs or alcohol were directly involved in his death.

Born James Hellwig, he had legally changed his name to Warrior. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

A full autopsy report likely won’t be completed for several months.


  • B

    Warrior, 54, died of “atherosclerotic/arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease” and of natural causes, which means no drugs or alcohol were directly involved in his death. How about indirectly from long term use of steroids and alcohol?. Is atherosclerotic/arteriosclerotic not a natural cause?? So this article and the results of preliminary autopsy is indicating that it’s natural to die at 54 years of age. Did the cardiovascular disease come from his excessive fatty food intake and his life style from being a wrestler? I think this report came out too early.

  • A.C. Knapp

    The authors measured coronary artery calcification as a means of examining the impact of anabolic steroids on the development of atherosclerotic disease in body builders using anabolic steroids over an extended period of time. Fourteen male professional body builders with no history of cardiovascular disease were evaluated for coronary artery calcium, serum lipids, left ventricular function, and exercise-induced myocardial ischemia. Seven subjects had coronary artery calcium, with a much higher than expected mean score of 98. Six of the 7 calcium scores were>90th percentile. Mean total cholesterol was 192 mg/dL, while mean high-density lipoprotein was 23 mg/dL and the mean ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein was 8.3. Left ventricular ejection fraction ranged between 49$ and 68$, with a mean of 59$. No subject had evidence of myocardial ischemia. This small group of professional body builders with a long history of steroid abuse had high levels of coronary artery calcium for age. The authors conclude that in this small pilot study there is an association between early coronary artery calcium and long-term steroid abuse. Large-scale studies are warranted to further explore this association.

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