Cocaine caused heart failure for former engineer of St Albans: inquest

Coroner's Court.

Coroner's Court. - Credit: Archant

A retired aeronautical engineer living in St Albans died after suffering heart failure brought on by previous cocaine use, a coroner ruled on Tuesday.

Maxwell Appleby was confirmed dead after being found collapsed on the floor by police officers at his Half Moon Mews home on June 26 this year.

A concerned neighbour raised the alarm after a large amount of post had built up outside the 63-year-old’s door and an odd smell was noticeable.

Police forced entry into the property at around 11am and discovered Mr Appleby lying on his right side, chest down, and surrounded by hospital paperwork and a medical kit for testing blood sugar levels.

An inquest at Herts coroners court on Tuesday heard that the diabetic had been lying on the floor for “some time”.

Medical notes revealed he had previously been prescribed beta blockers to cope with angina and heart failure problems.

In the days leading up to his death he had complained of feeling ill and shaky, which lasted for a few days before settling down on June 20.

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A post mortem examination found codeine in his system but levels were within a therapeutic range and it may have been used as a painkiller.

But Assistant Coroner for Herts Alison Grief said there was also evidence of illicit cocaine in the Scottish born man’s system.

Summarising, she said that following the post mortem, the pathologist noted there was a strong relationship between cocaine use, heart contraction bands, and sudden arrhythmic death. Ms Grief added: “Based on these findings I am satisfied the cause of death is that illicit cocaine was a direct cause of heart failure.”

She ruled he died of a drug related death.