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Ray Liotta cause of death revealed: What is pulmonary edema?

TMZ reported the 'Goodfellas' actor's death was 'natural and nonviolent.'

NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 24: Ray Liotta attends the 22nd Annual Newport Beach Film Festival as it presents Festival Honors & Variety's 10 Actors To Watch at The Balboa Bay Club And Resort on October 24, 2021 in Newport Beach, California. Pulmonary edema was revealed by TMZ as one of the causes of Ray Liotta's death in 2022.  (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images)
Pulmonary edema was revealed by TMZ as one of the causes of Ray Liotta's death in 2022. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images)

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

"Goodfellas" star Ray Liotta had fluid in his lungs nearly a year ago, while shooting a film in the Dominican Republic.

According to TMZ, Liotta's cause of death was revealed as acute heart failure and pulmonary edema.

"The actor's manner of death was categorized as natural and nonviolent," TMZ reported, adding the actor also suffered from respiratory insufficiency and a thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

Liotta, 67 at the time, was filming thriller "Dangerous Waters," in Santo Domingo, D.R., when he died in his sleep.

In a May 27, 2022 story, the day after his tragic passing, TMZ shared a photo of Liotta taken just days prior by a fan in Santo Domingo. "This woman who was fortunate enough to snap a selfie of the two of them says he was as kind and receptive as could be," the outlet wrote. It also reported at the time "there were no signs of health issues leading up to his death."

This is the second time in the past week that pulmonary edema has made headlines. Last week, NBC's star correspondent Morgan Chesky was hospitalized with high-altitude pulmonary edema while on a trip to Zion National Park in Utah.

"I couldn't seem to catch my breath," Chesky shared on Instagram.

"When my lungs started to fill with fluid, it forced my heart to work harder, causing my pulse to skyrocket. If not treated, staff tells me you either pass out from lack of oxygen or go into cardiac arrest," he penned. "Hard pass."

What is pulmonary edema?

Pulmonary edema is a buildup of fluid in the lungs that makes it difficult to breathe, according to Healthing.

"It usually happens when the heart does not pump blood through the body as well as it should. Blood can back up into the blood vessels that carry blood from the lungs to the heart.

"Blood pressure rises in those blood vessels, and fluid is pushed into the lungs," the website reports.

However, it can also be caused by kidney or liver failure, a poisoning, a non-fatal drowning, or similarly to Chesky's case, at high-altitudes.

"Pulmonary edema is serious," the doctor-reviewed explainer read.

Those who are diagnosed "may have trouble breathing, be restless, have a fast heart rate, or cough up foamy pink fluid."

doctor radiology looking chest x-ray film of patient at hospital. In pulmonary edema, fluid collects in the many air sacs in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. (Getty)
In pulmonary edema, fluid collects in the many air sacs in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. (Getty)

What are the symptoms to look out for?

According to WebMD, the illness "comes on suddenly and can be life-threatening."

Those who have the following symptoms are advised to contact their doctor or call 911:

  • shortness of breath after activity or while lying down

  • feeling of drowning or suffocating

  • trouble breathing while sweating

  • breathing that sounds bubbly, wheezing or gasping

  • coughing up pink phlegm or blood

  • blue or gray-looking skin

  • uneven heartbeat

  • a drop in blood pressure and feeling lightheaded or weak

How to care for pulmonary edema

Certain diet and lifestyle choices can lower the risk of pulmonary edema.

Eating a balanced diet with a low-sodium intake, fresh fruits and vegetables and protein is first on the list. Getting regular exercise, not smoking and staying out of air pollution can also help.

Healthing also advises staying out of high-altitude places, learning breathing methods to help airflow into the lungs and getting enough sleep.

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