Pushing Up Lilies

Heartstrings of Tragedy: The Death of Matthew Perry

Episode Summary

In this solemn episode of Pushing Up Lilies, I, as your host and a forensic death investigator, invite you to a profound examination of the beloved actor Matthew Perry's passing. Beyond the surface, we embark on a journey to uncover the potential reasons behind his untimely demise, navigating the intricate interplay between substance use, the heart, and the perplexing circumstances surrounding his departure. Join me as we navigate the complex web of medical intricacies, considering the profound effects of drugs on the human heart and why this tragedy might extend beyond a simple case of drowning. Drawing from my forensic expertise, we'll unravel the layers of this enigma, shedding light on the potential factors that contributed to Perry's final moments. This episode serves as a somber reminder of the silent dangers that lurk within substance use, particularly on the delicate balance of the heart. As we explore the shadows of Matthew Perry's death, we embark on a quest for understanding and awareness surrounding the intricate relationship between drugs and mortality.

Episode Notes


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Episode Transcription

0:06 Welcome to Pushing Up Lilies.

0:08 I'm your host, Julie Matson.

0:10 Pushing Up Lilies is a weekly True Crime podcast with spine tingling, unusual and terrifyingly true stories from my perspective as a forensic death investigator and a sexual assault nurse examiner.

0:24 Do I have some stories for you?

0:26 Are you ready?

0:30 I think everyone was in shock the past week or so.

0:36 When we heard the news of Matthew Perry's death, I know that I had mentioned in previous episodes that things aren't always what they seem and it kind of drove me crazy that the news was reporting it as a drowning just because he was in a hot tub.

0:56 We do have deaths at our office that occur and let's say there was a car accident.

1:05 But when we go to the scene and we look over the body, we find that they were shot by someone that drove past them which caused them to wreck their car and there are no other injuries that would indicate that the car accident actually killed them.

1:25 This happens a lot, of course, that's one reason why the medical examiner even gets involved, right?

1:32 So that we can go to the scene, analyze the situation, and find out exactly what happened.

1:41 If people were sent directly to the funeral home from every death scene, then those things would virtually go missed.

1:49 I mean, I know the funeral home would catch them, but we would like to hope that they would, our homicides would have been reported as natural deaths or accidental deaths because there would have been no investigation.

2:03 That's why we get involved because we do find things like that very commonly.

2:08 It's not uncommon to find drugs at a scene where somebody may have had heart disease or may have had diabetes.

2:19 If we didn't go to the scene and look around and find these things, then, you know, in those cases, those deaths would be ruled natural when they may be caused by accidental drug overdoses.

2:33 We did have one gentleman who was found in the hot tub at a local gym.

2:39 And so he was found by, I think, people who work there.

2:43 The good thing is we're able to go back and look at the cameras in the gym to see when he went underwater.

2:50 But if we didn't get involved, then these things would go completely uninvestigated, and the cause of death would be inaccurate.

3:00 In many, many, many cases, it kind of aggravated me when they kept saying that Matthew Perry's death was an apparent drowning just because he was found in a hot tub.

3:13 And of course he was submerged according to police reports.

3:19 And the person who found him, who his name has not really been publicized said his head was underwater.

3:28 I guess they had left the residence and come back or shown up at the residence and found him.

3:32 But his head was apparently underwater, and he or she got him up out of the water and kind of leaned him over the hot tub now, just because his head was submerged, doesn't mean that he actually drowned or that he even swallowed water.

3:50 That's kind of what I wanted to explain about his death.

3:54 Everybody, you know, of course, we all loved Matthew Perry and we all watched friends.

4:00 But the risks of getting in the hot tub when you have underlying medical problems are very high, there are ways to avoid those things.

4:11 And so we'll kind of talk about that, but your heart rate goes up when you're overheated.

4:17 That's not just when you're running and when it's hot outside, but also when you're sitting in a sauna or when you're in a hot tub, so your heart rate's going to go up from being overheated when your heart function is already limited.

4:34 Like you have blockages in your coronary arteries.

4:37 You've had heart problems, you have a stent, you have heart arrhythmias PV, CS atrial fibrillation, any kind of issue like that related to your heart, then when your rate goes up, especially because of being overheated, it can cause a cardiac event, which includes a heart attack, sudden or extended immersion in hot water can super heat your body and stress your heart out.

5:12 Hot tubs can be potentially dangerous.

5:15 But if you're aware and use common sense, you can use them safely.

5:21 Of course, you always have to discuss with your doctor.

5:26 You know, based on your medical history, what may or may not be safe for you.

5:32 It's important to regulate the water temperature.

5:36 Most hot tubs are going to have a temperature control and a thermometer, you'll be able to closely monitor exactly what the temperature is, limit the exposure.

5:46 They are saying that anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes is a safe number as far as minutes to be in the hot tub.

5:56 And it's important to stay hydrated when you're in there.

5:59 Keep a bottle of cool water nearby.

6:02 When your body is submerged in hot water, your body temperature and your heart rate's going to rise, but your blood pressure is going to drop.

6:11 You're not able to cool off when your body is immersed in hot water because even though you sweat, you're in the water so you can't really cool cause sweat is what cools us off.

6:24 Your blood vessels are going to dilate so they're going to get bigger, which is what makes your blood pressure go down.

6:32 That's what takes place in an attempt to cool you off.

6:37 The blood goes to the skin away from the body's core.

6:42 Well, that's just the best way I know to explain it, your heart rate and your pulse are going to increase, to counteract the drop in your blood pressure.

6:53 Which is kind of interesting.

6:54 I mean, our bodies can do so much in an effort to control what's going on externally.

7:01 It's crazy when you think about it, someone without heart issues may not be affected at all.

7:09 However, if you have a history of issues, it can definitely over tax your heart to be in a hot tub or exposed to this heat.

7:18 Your heart can't pump enough blood; your blood pressure is going to go down.

7:24 You get dizzy, you feel a little bit faint, you start to get nauseated.

7:29 You have abnormal heart rhythms; your blood flow is inadequate and that can all result in a heart attack.

7:39 I'm saying even without heart problems, we do find a lot of people in saunas and hot tubs that are deceased.

7:48 I mean, some are submerged in the water, some are not, but medications can also worsen the problem.

7:55 If you're on a beta blocker like metoprolol, it can lower your heart rate.

8:01 It's going to limit the blood flow to your skin.

8:05 Again, that cooling mechanism is not going to work diuretics.

8:09 If you're on diuretics of any kind, Lasix or other medications that contain diuretics, that's going to increase the excretion of water and salt from your body.

8:24 Again, make sure the temperature is not too high and only staying in for a brief amount of time can be a big deal.

8:32 I love hot tubs and I used to have one and I'm upset that I don't have it anymore.

8:36 And I was actually telling my husband last night I want one again because I think a lot of us hold a lot of stress in our neck and back and it just sounds amazing after a long day at work when you come home and you're sore and achy and you know, or you walk a lot, and your legs are killing you.

8:53 It does relieve stress.

8:55 It's also known to decrease symptoms of depression.

8:58 Improvements in stress levels are better in those who take a hot bath over those who take a hot shower.

9:05 It's just relaxing to sit and just like do nothing.

9:09 It manages muscle aches.

9:11 Well, the heat increases blood flow and helps loosen all those tense muscles floating in a hot tub or even in a pool or whatnot can take pressure off of your joints.

9:23 A lot of people are doing water aerobics now, it's a lot better than doing regular aerobics because you're not putting all that pressure on the joints in your body and it prevents muscle damage from exercise.

9:38 Hot water is also a great alternative to over-the-counter medications for pain.

9:44 And who knows that may have been one reason why Matthew Perry was in his hot tub at the time of his death.

9:51 But studies do show that regular hot tubers are less likely to develop cardiac disease.

9:58 And we're not talking about those who already have it, but they're less likely to develop cardiac disease.

10:04 But you still need to eat a healthy diet and it is important to still exercise.

10:11 It improves your sleep.

10:14 Your body temperature also dips at night.

10:18 That's normal.

10:19Your body needs time to cool down.

10:22 They say to get out of the hot tub, 90 minutes before you go to bed, give your body time to cool down before you actually go lie in bed.

10:34 Now, we all know that alcohol or any kind of substance can hinder your awareness when you're in the hot tub.

10:45 If you feel too hot or you're dizzy or you get a headache, it's important to get out of the hot tub.

10:51 These are signs that your blood pressure is dropping too low.

10:55 Your heart rate may be too high, just kind of listen to your body.

11:00 If you're in the hot tub and you start to feel kind of dizzy, lightheaded, your head hurts really bad or you just feel overheated, which I've done before, it's time to get out.

11:10 Not that you can't get back in but take a little break, cool off, drink some cold water.

11:16 Those types of things.

11:17 Now injecting illegal drugs can cause the veins to collapse and bacterial infections can be caused as well of the blood vessels and the heart valves.

11:31 Talking now a little bit about the effects that drugs can have on you.

11:35 Not only in the hot tub, but just in general, it can cause a lot of bacterial infections that are going to affect your heart valve.

11:44 You know, we all know that Matthew Perry had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse.

11:50 He was sober and friends who spoke with him the day before his death say that he was 100% sober.

11:59 Reports from the investigation stated that there were no drugs or alcohol at the scene that made them think that there was any kind of foul play involved and nothing there to make them think that this was anything other than a natural death.

12:15 But a history, a long history of drug use can cause all these bacterial infections.

12:24 A history of cocaine, methamphetamine use ecstasy, any of those drugs can affect your cardiac system.

12:33 Amphetamines are going to increase your heart rate and your blood pressure.

12:38 Ecstasy is going to; it's a stimulant and it's also going to cause hallucinogenic effects.

12:45 Opioids are going to increase the risk of heart rhythm disorders.

12:50 Those who used opioids are 34% more likely to suffer from a arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation.

12:59 Now, drugs like Adderall can also cause heart failure and sudden heart attack which causes long term damage to the heart muscle if you're on or have been on any of those medications for an extended period of time.

13:14 There is damage to the heart muscle, even when you stop.

13:18 I mean, a lot of these things are not repaired, they don't fix themselves.

13:23 A lot of people who use drugs at younger ages are walking around with heart issues that they may not even be aware of.

13:30 I mean, you may feel fine and have some underlying heart issues when you get in a hot tub, you know, like perry can cause all these problems because all these things are going on with your heart and with your body temperature and your blood pressure and your heart rate, long term risks to drug abuse.

13:49 And again, we're not saying that he was on drugs.

13:53 I was always so proud to hear the stories of him becoming sober and how he helped other people by taking them to and starting his sober living home.

14:04 It was amazing.

14:05 He wanted to be remembered as one of those people who helped people and that could go to him and say, hey, I have a problem and he would be able to help them.

14:14 He didn't want to be remembered by being Chandler Bing, you know, on friends, which that's a great accomplishment as well, but it's not how he wanted to be remembered, but there are long term risks due to drug abuse.

14:28 I mean, so many things that you don't think about because although it's great to not be on them anymore, but I think it's important to see a cardiologist, see a specialist, not a family practice, doctor, see a specialist go to a cardiologist and let them do an evaluation to see what the heart muscle looks like and continue to take care of yourself.

14:53 But cardiomyopathy is again, it can cause no symptoms at all.

14:59 But as it worsens, you can get short of breath, feel tired all the time, have swelling in your legs and that's due to the onset of heart failure, it can cause irregular heartbeats, fainting, it could be genetic as well.

15:14 It can progressively lead to heart disease and cause a lot of problems.

15:18 But it's kind of where the proteins can disturb the cardiac function and they're varied.

15:26 It can happen in Children and adults; it causes the heart muscle to be enlarged and it just can't pump like it needs to congestive heart failure.

15:38 And all these underlying heart issues that are caused by drugs in the past, no matter how long ago may not improve.

15:46 After drugs are stopped.

15:49 Perry used drugs throughout 10 seasons of friends.

15:53 And he stated that he doesn't even remember three years of the show.

15:58 He stated in his book that when he was heavy or overweight, that he was usually going through a stage where he used alcohol a lot.

16:08And when he was thin, he was usually using pills.

16:12 And he also said when he had a goatee, that was indicative of him using a lot of pills.

16:18 He claimed that by the end of season three, he was taking or trying to take 55 Vicodin a day.

16:27 And if he didn't, he got sick because his body was just used to that.

16:33 Now in 2019, his colon burst a lot of that was due to the opioids that he had been on for so, so long and he was in a coma for two weeks.

16:45 He had a colostomy bag and wasn't doing well.

16:49 I think I remember when this happened, I think we were all kind of on edge wondering if he was going to make it.

16:55 But he had had 14 previous abdominal surgeries.

16:59 And I think most or all of those were related to the drugs that he had used.

17:04 Take back, you know, when we hear that he had drowned just because he had submerged in the hot tub.

17:11 You know, my death investigation mine kicked in and I was like, ok, just because he's underwater doesn't mean he drowned on autopsy.

17:19 They're going to look at his lungs and see if there's any water in them.

17:23 If you are still breathing, when you go underwater, obviously, you're going to inhale water and there's going to be water in your lungs on autopsy.

17:32 But if you stop breathing due to a cardiac event before your head goes under, there's not going to be water in your lungs.

17:41 Like if you had taken a breath in while you were under water, this is obviously something that they would have looked at.

17:50 They may or may not have seen that on autopsy.

17:53 And the reason we're not privy to that information is because of his history and we do this to everybody and it's not passing judgment and it's not saying there are drugs involved, but you just have to look at toxicology.

18:09 You have to, you can't make a ruling and ignore the history even though you know, there's an investigator at the scene that says there were no drugs or alcohol, not everybody keeps them out in the open.

18:20 It doesn't always happen where, you know, you're using drugs while you're in the hot tub.

18:25 You may have used them an hour before and they're in your nightstand.

18:30 They're not always going to be out in the open.

18:32 Another reason why we have investigators go to the scene to look in the drawers and in the cabinets and as well as around the person.

18:40 But it's important to look around at everything.

18:45 Many things to take in when we're at a scene.

18:50 But whether or not he swallowed water is important, whether or not there are drugs in his system is important.

18:57 I have a feeling that his ruling is going to come back as a natural death with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease or dilated cardiomyopathy or something like that.

19:10 Coming back again, we're looking at his history of drug use and not necessarily accusing him of recent drug use, but you just do have to take the history into account.

19:23 You know, they've already done the autopsy.

19:25 They've already had the funeral.

19:26 They've already looked at his lungs, they've already looked at every other possibility and before they make a ruling, they just had to rule out that toxicology.

19:35 Now, part of the talks apparently did come back, and it said that there was no Fentanyl and no meth in his system.

19:42 They haven't really given us any information on whether or not there was alcohol and whether or not there were Vicodin or opioids involved because those are the things that he had had issues with.

19:54 In the past, the entire toxicology report has not yet been released to the public.

20:00 I'm going to say that I feel like he was clean and sober.

20:04 I could be wrong, but I feel like those underlying issues related to the history of drug use is probably all exacerbated by the fact that he was in the hot tub.

20:17 Of course, we don't know how long he had been in there.

20:19I don't know if anyone was with him at the time.

20:21The person that found him may have been with him in the hot tub and left and came back.

20:25 Not 100% sure.

20:28 But I think everyone is anxiously awaiting and he may have swallowed a little bit of water when he went under, and he may have drowned.

20:36 But that doesn't mean that he didn't have underlying cardiac problems that caused him to go underwater in the first place.

20:42 I mean, I don't think any of us feel like he submerged his head and drowned himself on purpose or anything like that.

20:51 I think what we're going to find is that his death, whether it was drowning because he had a cardiac event and went underwater and maybe took in a little water or not, is going to be ultimately related to his underlying history of heart problems from his history of drug use.

21:10 His death occurred on October 28th and that's a 2023 at his home in L A.

21:17 He did want to be remembered by his commitment to help others get sober.

21:22 He did turn his former Malibu home into a sober living facility and that ran until 2015, disease of alcoholism and drug addiction can attack anybody.

21:35 That's another thing to remember.

21:37 It doesn't make you a bad person, doesn't make you a terrible person.

21:41 Life is hard and sometimes using those substances is the way people deal with it.

21:48 Everybody's going through their own thing.

21:50 And that's another thing that we all need to remember.

21:55 I just wanted to kind of explain, you know, when they said drowning just because he was underwater, that doesn't necessarily mean that he drowned.

22:04 I feel like that these underlying problems related to drug use had a lot to do with it.

22:10 I know that when I look back at people that I went to school with and people that I know who had a history of drug use, they all died of heart attacks at a very young age and I'm talking forties and fifties.

22:25 That's just because even when you stop the damage is already done.

22:30 And that's why it's important if you do have a history of drug use and abuse and alcoholism, good for you for stopping.

22:39 But it is important to continue to take care of your body by going to a cardiologist or a specialist who can do an evaluation to make sure your heart stays healthy and do things that are going to continue to prolong your life and know the DS and don't of someone who has damage to that heart muscle so that you can continue to live a long and healthy life.

23:08 I think we're all kind of on edge waiting for his autopsy results to come back.

23:13 I do believe that it was related to a heart issue just because of all the drug use because it went on for so, so many years.

23:21 I hope everyone had a great Halloween that kind of came and went fast.

23:24 I can't believe it's already November and here we are looking at Thanksgiving and I'm already wanting to put up my Christmas tree.

23:31 I know that's so wrong, but it's going to happen probably this coming weekend.

23:36 I don't know.

23:37 I just figure as much as we spend on Christmas decorations we might as well enjoy them for as much time as possible.

23:43 And you know what, you can still have Thanksgiving with your tree up.

23:46 There's not a law against that last I heard, but I hope everyone is staying safe, staying warm and doing good things.

23:57 I wanted to say this and yesterday, I know that we've mentioned before that I do have kind of a storefront and I'm working on putting a boutique in it and went to market yesterday and bought some things for the store at my med spa.

24:12 And I stopped at Starbucks.

24:14 My daughter was with me.

24:15 We stopped at Starbucks and got coffee before we went to Dallas and I bought a $10 gift card, Starbucks gift card and my daughter's like, what is that for?

24:25 And I said, I'm going to give it to the little person that works behind the counter that checks us in when we go stand in line because it's stressful for them.

24:33 There's a huge line of people waiting to get in and I just want to give it to him.

24:38 I do that frequently.

24:39 When I go on trips, I will buy several gift cards at Starbucks and give to my flight attendants and they cry sometimes because it's like no one gives them anything but dirty looks sometimes when they're flying and you know, they are there to make sure everybody's going by the rules and to keep us all safe.

24:58 I personally appreciate that.

24:59 I have a lot of friends and clients who are flight attendants.

25:02 Thank you guys.

25:03 I do that every once in a while.

25:05 I did that yesterday and my daughter was like, oh my gosh, you're so sweet.

25:08 Just remember you always hear about people buying coffee for the people behind him in the Starbucks line.

25:14 But I try to do that.

25:16 I kind of made a rule for myself a long time ago.

25:19 I do something nice for at least one stranger every day.

25:24 And that may be something as simple as holding a door open or letting a car in front of me on the highway.

25:32 That counts.

25:32 That's something nice.

25:33 Right?



25:34 Or, you know, giving him a gift card or just something, you can really make someone's day again, everyone's going through something.

25:42 And I just think that as a nice gesture, you know, I mean, I might be mean to 10 people.

25:47 No, I'm not, I'm just saying one, if you just make a conscious decision to do one nice thing for one stranger every day, of course, always be nastier friends.

25:58 Right?



25:58 But just for one stranger and it can be something very, very simple.

26:03 I think it's important to realize again that everyone's going through something.

26:07 And so if you can make someone's day, sometimes it doesn't take much.

26:12 I mean, I know that occasionally I'll buy a burrito for a homeless person.

26:18 I mean, it's not much, it cost me, what, 89 cents?

26:21 But it means a lot to them.

26:23 Just something that I wanted to throw in there.

26:25 But that was something that I did yesterday.

26:27 And I think my daughter thought I was out of my mind, but you know what?

26:29 To see that smile on that little lady's face.

26:31 I mean, she was just like, oh, my gosh, why?

26:33 You know, and I was like, because you're working hard.

26:35 I mean, who knows?

26:36 Her employer may not ever tell her what a good job she's doing.

26:40 I think a lot of them are retired and I don't know, it’s just nice, you know, make a nice gesture.

26:47 Everyone have an amazing week and I look forward to talking to you next week.

26:54 Thank you so much for joining me today on Pushing Up Lilies.

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27:05 This helps to make the podcast more visible to the public.

27:08 Thanks again for spending your time with me and be sure to visit me at PushingUpLilies.com for merchandise and past episodes.