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Pirates Stargell's death linked to hypertension

Monday, April 09, 2001

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A disease doctors call the silent killer was ultimately responsible for the death of baseball great Willie Stargell.

Stargell, 61, died from a stroke at 12:23 a.m. this morning at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, N.C.

The stroke was one of many complications Stargell suffered as a result of a long history of high blood pressure. His heart problems and kidney failure, for which he was on dialysis treatments, were also caused by the disease.

Stargell entered the hospital on Feb. 23 for surgery on his gallbladder. His health deteriorated soon after the operation, said kidney specialist Dr. James McCabe.

"Despite our best efforts, he suffered an acute stroke and died peacefully this morning with his wife and family at his side," McCabe said at a press briefing.

The doctor noted that millions of Americans have high blood pressure, also called hypertension, but are unaware of it.

"They don't have symptoms," he said. "That's why it's called the silent killer. They don't seek care until it's too late."

Stargell took excellent care of his health and that likely prolonged his life.

"His athleticism certainly helped him through the last four years," McCabe noted. "He was able to come through incredible odds."

Frances Weller, sister to Stargell's wife, Margaret Weller-Stargell, spoke for the family at the press conference.

"Willie has been a miracle over the last two years," she said. "Willie would want you to focus more on his life than his death."

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