Man dies in Peoria Police custody; leading Cardiologists to warn about pre-existing heart conditions

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PEORIA, Ill. — The death of a 33-year-old in Peoria has health leaders sending a reminder, it’s important to understand your heart health.

David Smith died Tuesday after police say they discovered he was unconscious in their custody.

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood says Smith died of a heart arrhythmia related to a pre-existing condition.

WMBD’s Matt Sheehan spoke with doctors about what that means and found out what Smith’s loved ones wish would have happened.

Harwood says David Smith likely didn’t know he had a heart condition that was of any concern.

The 33-year-old died Tuesday, a day after he was discovered unconscious in police custody, after he was the suspect in an attempted armed robbery at the Mini Mart on Johnson Street in Peoria.

“Although he was an unconscious man, right is right and wrong is wrong. Regardless of what happened prior, my brother deserved medical attention,” said Smith’s sister Keondra Fluker.

“If he’s not conscious enough to hear his Miranda rights, how is he conscious enough to be taken into custody? It’s confirmed from his video he is slumped. There is no life in his body from his feet to his head,” said Smith’s childhood friend Patrice Foster.

Dr. Sudhir Mungee of the OSF Cardiovascular Institute says if you have questions about your heart health, get checked.

“If they feel palpitation or the have a sinking feeling, or passing out spells. Most of the time patients actually feeling heart pounding out of the chest. I think it is very appropriate to talk to your doctors,” Dr. Mungee said.

Dr. Sudhir says heart health can be affected by everyday things.

“Follow up could mean either changing lifestyle, treating blood pressure, reducing weight, risk factor mortification. Or appropriate medication treatment or even sometimes procedures,” Dr. Sudhir said.

But unfortunately, unknown heart problems can be deadly.

“It could be common that your first event could be your major first event that you have as a heart patient, and that could be unfortunate. But even for that first event to happen, there are leading risk factors that have been present for multiple years,” Dr. Sudhir said.

“This is why knowing your risk factors and trying to correct them is the key because they may present at the age of 40s, 50s, 60s for the first time. But what lead to that event has been present for years,” Dr. Sudhir said.

Dr. Mungee says too much caffeine can lead to a fast heart rate and sometimes over the counter medicines can lead to heart issues.

“The top chamber of the heart, when you have a rhythm problem coming from that, it’s typically benign. But when the bottom chamber of the heart has an abnormal rhythm, that can be life-threatening,” Dr. Mungee said.

So it’s important to see your doctor if you have any concerns.

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