Oregon State Medical Examiner Dr. Karen Gunson conducted her autopsy on Fred Thompson this morning (December 9, 2011), and determined the cause of his death was hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes enlarged, and of significance, the walls of the heart become thicker. During strenuous exercise, the increased thickness of the heart muscle can lead to cardiac arrhythmia, and did in Thompson's case.
"Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a major cause of death in young athletes who seem completely healthy, but die during heavy exercise," said Dr. Gunson. "Some people may not even realize they have the condition until it is found in a routine medical examination."
Thompson, 19, died Wednesday evening, December 7, after collapsing while playing basketball with teammates at Dixon Rec. Center on the Oregon State University campus.
A moment of silence will be observed during the pregame to the Oregon St. basketball game tonight, and a video of the tribute and the crowd's paying respects will be sent to Thompson's mother.
Per the Thompson family's wishes, his skin, bone and eyes were donated, an opportunity to turn the sad tragedy into improved quality of life for others.