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Medical examiner: Billy Mays had heart disease

TAMPA — Preliminary autopsy results for TV pitchman Billy Mays suggest he died of heart disease, the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner said today.

The autopsy done this morning reveals no evidence of head trauma or drug abuse, said Dr. Vernard Adams. There had been speculation that Mays might have been injured during a hard landing Saturday at Tampa International Airport.

The autopsy showed he had hardening of the arteries, Adams said. He was taking pain medication after two recent hip surgeries, but there is no evidence that contributed to his death, Adams said.

Adams said Mays had no knowledge of his heart disease and was taking no medication for it.

"By definition, sudden death can't be predicted," Adams said. "This was a total surprise."

Adams said 25 to 30 percent of deaths from heart disease are sudden.

A full autopsy should be completed within eight to 10 weeks.

Deborah Mays, Billy Mays' wife, issued this statement:

"Billy would be overwhelmed to see that his life touched so many people in a positive way. The support we have received during this difficult time has been tremendous. We thank you for your thoughts and prayers. While it provides some closure to learn that heart disease took Billy from us, it certainly doesn't ease the enormous void that his death has created in our lives. As you can imagine, we are all devastated. We are asking that you respect our privacy as I will not be conducting any media interviews in the near future."

Mays, famous for selling cleaning products on infomercials, didn't wake up Sunday morning and was pronounced dead about 7:45 a.m. No foul play is suspected, police said.

Mays, 50, told his family he didn't feel good Saturday and went to sleep early, about 10 p.m., police said. He had just returned from a trip to Philadelphia to shoot an OxiClean commercial and was on the plane that had a hard landing at Tampa International Airport when a tire blew out.

Mays told WTVT-Ch.13 Saturday that something hit his head during the landing, but no injuries were reported to airport officials.

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Medical examiner: Billy Mays had heart disease 06/29/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 5:51pm]

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