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What Killed President Andrew Jackson?

Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States. At age 39, he was 6’1″ tall and weighed 135 pounds. His excessive thinness saved his life.

THE DUEL: In a duel, competitors walk a specific distance from each other, turn and fire. Usually the first to fire wins, unless he misses. Then he usually loses. Charles Dickinson, one of the most successful duelers in America, challenged Andrew Jackson to a duel. Dickinson had fought many duels and won them all. He was also a champion marksman. Andrew Jackson was not an experienced dueler, and wasn’t even a very good shot. He knew, no matter how hard he tried, Dickinson would get off the first shot. To save his life, Jackson had do something clever. So he wore a long dark blue coat and long black, baggy trousers to the duel.

Dickinson did shoot first. Jackson felt severe pain in his chest. His coat turned bright red with blood, but he was still alive. Dickinson was horrified and screamed: “I missed him.” Jackson aimed and fired. Dickinson fell to the ground and died soon afterwards.

WHY ANDREW JACKSON LIVED: Dickinson’s aim was perfect, but he had shot at the wrong place. Jackson took advantage of his incredible thinness by wearing a baggy full-length coat that drooped to his knees. The coat hid the fact that he had pulled his baggy pants to his armpits, so he looked like he was taller than he actually was. When Dickinson took aim at what he thought was Jackson’s heart, he was really aiming at Jackson’s lower chest. His aim was perfect, but instead of going through his heart, the bullet went through his left lower ribs, several inches below his heart. Jackson bled from his lungs, not his heart, and filled his left boot with blood.

LIFETIME SYMPTOMS: Jackson survived the duel but doctors were not able to remove the bullet from his chest, and he had pain for the rest of his life. He also had a bullet in his shoulder from an earlier duel. He suffered from:

• excessive salivation,
• early loss of teeth,
• colic (chronic belly pain),
• diarrhea,
• pallor,
• hand tremors,
• irritability,
• paranoia,
• violent mood swings, and
• chronic renal failure.

All of these symptoms can be caused by a single medical condition. His physicians treated him repeatedly with the commonly-used early 19th-century medications, calomel and sugar of lead.

THE DIAGNOSIS WAS MADE IN 1999: Two hairs from Jackson’s head were analyzed for mercury and lead. Mercury levels were 6 and 5.6 parts per million (PPM) from both the 1815 and 1839 hair specimens (Journal of the American Medical Association, 1999;282 (6):569-571). Lead levels were incredibly high at 130 PPM in 1815 and 44 PPM in 1839. All the symptoms listed above can be caused by poisoning from mercury or lead or both. He was poisoned with lead and mercury by his doctors’ prescriptions: mercury from calomel (mercurous chloride) and lead from sugar of lead (lead acetate). The bullets also contributed to the high lead levels.

WHAT CAUSED ANDREW JACKSON’S DEATH? Now let’s see if you can tell what eventually killed Andrew Jackson. In addition to the lead and mercury poisoning,

• He smoked his entire life,
• he ate meat every day,
• he had several bouts of left chest pain that kept him in bed for several weeks at a time, and
• his wife, Rachel, was the only wife of an American president who smoked a pipe.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END: At age 78, he suffered from suffocating shortness of breath. His neck veins swelled and his shoes hurt him because they were too tight. Then his ankles, legs, hands and belly started to swell. Then, to be able to breathe, he had to sit up in bed, propped up on pillows. By late spring,

• his face was swollen and
• he exclaimed: “I am a blubber of water.”
• Then he smothered to death.

HE DIED OF ???????????????????
The weeks of being bed ridden with chest pain were caused by several heart attacks which damaged his heart muscle and eventually made it too weak to pump blood through his body. Then his heart failed, which caused his body to retain fluid. . People in heart failure retain fluid and swell all over their bodies. The fluid collects in their lungs so they can’t breathe, and in their legs, so their shoes feel too tight and then their legs swell so much that they are unable to walk.

His lifestyle should scare you. He smoked every day of his life, lived with a smoker, ate meat daily, had chronic gum and tooth disease, carried lead bullets in his body for many years, and was treated by his doctors regularly with medications that contained mercury and lead. All these factors increased his risk for heart attacks that eventually damaged his heart so badly that it could not pump blood through his body so he smothered to death.

December 23rd, 2012
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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