It has been widely reported that Elvis Presley died in 1977 from cardiac arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat, possibly brought on by drug dependency, obesity and a weak heart. But the music legend's longtime friend and physician, Dr. George “Nick” Nichopoulos, has put pen to paper for the first time and revealed his belief that it was chronic constipation that actually killed the King of Rock and Roll.
“After he died we weren’t sure (of the exact cause of death) so I continued to do some research and I had some doctors call me from different places and different med schools that were doing research on constipation and different problems you can get into with it. I just want to get the story straight – it all made sense with the new research that was done,” the now retired Memphis M.D told Pop Tarts. "Dr. Nick" was by Presley's side for the last twelve years of his life and tried to resuscitate him the day he died. He recently released the book “The King and Dr. Nick” about his time with The King, and his theory on the death that shocked America.
“We didn’t realize until the autopsy that his constipation was as bad – we knew it was bad because it was hard for us to treat, but we didn’t realize what it had done," the doctor explains of Elvis' condition. "We just assumed that the constipation was secondary to the meds that he was taking for his arthritic pain and for his insomnia.”
According to Dr. Nick, the autopsy revealed that Presley’s colon was 5 to 6 inches in diameter (whereas the normal width is 2 to 3 inches) and instead of being the standard 4 to 5 feet long, his colon was 8 to 9 feet in length.
“The constipation upset him quite a bit because Elvis thought that he could handle almost anything, he thought he was really a man’s man and he wasn’t going to let something like this … he thought that this was a sign of weakness and he wasn’t going to be weak,” Nichopoulos said. “And it’s not the kind of thing you table talk. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s you didn’t’ talk about constipation much, you didn’t’ hear people complaining about it, or saying what they did or how much trouble they had with it.”
In 1975, the primary treatment for this kind of problem involved removing part of the colon, known as a colostomy, and at the time Dr. Nick was in talks with a surgeon at the University of Memphis to perform the procedure. However Presley’s “ego” got in the way.
“He would get embarrassed, he’d have accidents onstage. He’d have to change clothes and come back because of the way we were trying to treat his constipation,” Nichopoulos said. “So if they had done the colostomy then, he’d probably still be here. But it wasn’t acceptable treatment at that time. Now the treatment is short.”
Nichopoulos also believes that Presley’s prominent weight gain in the years prior to his death, was not a result of overeating or eating the wrong foods, as they initially assumed. The doctor reveals that Elvis' bloated appearance was due to his severe constipation.
“It was really a physiological problem. During the last few years we were going back and comparing pictures, some of them were taken just two weeks a part but he looked like he’d gained 20 pounds when the only difference was that he had a good healthy bowel movement and then lost a lot of weight from that,” Dr. Nick explained. “Usually you pass it all in two or three days, but at the autopsy we found stool in his colon which had been there for four or five months because of the poor motility of the bowel.”
So how would Presley feel about all the details of this “debilitating” disease being made public?
“I still think it’d be embarrassing for him, but that may be because we couldn’t explain it at that time the way we can now. But bowel paralysis is hereditary and you can in fact pass it down to your children,” he continued. “His condition was either something he was born with like Hershberger’s disease, or some viruses cause the paralysis of the nerves in the colon. The nerves weren’t functioning enough in places, or weren’t functioning at all because his colon would not push food out, it would just accumulate.”
And even through all the trials and tribulations of their personal and professional relationship, Nichopoulos will first and foremost remember the captivating yet compassionate person that was our beloved American icon, Elvis Presley.
“He was well-written, a very kind person, a very giving person. He was just one of a kind. You couldn’t ask for a better friend,” Dr. Nick added. “The main thing that he enjoyed in life was doing his shows. He would change from one person to another as soon as he walked on the stage. He would just go through a metamorphosis – all of a sudden he flipped a switch and looked like a toy soldier dancing up there.”
This isn't actually anything new. The TV programme "Death By Excess" told of Elvis' "mega-colon" a number of years ago.
For some reason i really regret reading this, I dunno i feel like I'm being told someones very personal problems. The only decent thing dr Nick has to say is in the last paragraph
I had strong feelings that this was part of his fall from grace
Circle G, why is this Personal? , if this story saves the life of one person its worth every word. People today will not talk about this subject along with the once a year mans exam the problems are real and today they can be helped.
SHAME ON YOU for perpetuating this 'news' story. And shame on Fox News as well! Dr. Nick is a sad old man, and I have no respect for him whatsoever for divulging this kind of information. Even though it's most likely all true, who the hell needs to know this crap, anyway??!! >:[
it explains a lot of things thats for sure. very sad and tragic.
I have believed since the 70's that Elvis was not a drugged out tripster during that decade, even though he is usually portrayed that way. Any publicity like this that shows he had very serious medical problems and that bring a measure of empathy for the great man are welcome in my book.
Yes Mystery Rider you are right. I just think once the main press get hold of stories like this, however true and sympathetic they are intended, they over shadow the legacy which as snowplow has said is more important. But of course if it helps one person then great.
Dr Nick says "he’d have accidents onstage" Whats this about? Has this been verified?? I wouldnt think so. This kind of info is confidential and a doctor shouldnt reveal this about his patient even 33 years on.
Its probably all true. Elvis had many problems for a young 42 year old man, but drugs were still part of it. You can hear it in his speech the last few years and in his mood swings. Also a real doctor will tell you drugs can constipate and very badly. I was on some meds once and had to come off them because of this very problem. So you can imagine what all the pills may have done to him. Plus his diet, etc, etc.
This all sounds very logical, it does fit with how Elvis' appearance changed so much during his last year. Compare the photo of him at a funeral in January 1977 and the photo of him with Jackie Kahane in June 1977 to most of the other pictures we have from that time. Elvis looks great in the two pictures I highlighted. It is a sad story to read because Elvis' life could so easily have been saved. But what's done is done, we cannot change the past.
I'm sure there is some truth to this, but I dont trust Dr Nick or anything he say 100%. If this is true, why didnt he say it years ago when he was accused of killing Elvis by over prescribing pills? That would have been a more appropriate time dont you think? Let's not forget he is selling a book now, so a 'revelation' of sorts always helps.
I think that Dr Nick is mearly going for the stuff that would appeal to The Sun's readers. Which if you don't live in the UK is a down market tabloid which thrives on sound bytes like this regarding Elvis supposed constipation. The Sun is an idiots delight and if you believe this rubbish you are probably an avid reader of this daily.
You can't keep this guy quiet can you? Especially when there's a few quid to be made. Not a very useful diagnosis Dr. Nick, coming over 30 years after the patient passed away.
I am staggered by Dr Nick's blatant disregard for the truth regarding Elvis's death. Elvis's colon was severely impacted and this is no great secret, what's the suprise here? The autopsy team had no other conclusion other than that this was caused by long term abuse of depressant drugs. This is a well documented and known side effect of drug abuse and for Dr Nick to say Elvis died of constipation and some underlying disease, is nothing short of ridiculous and his way of glossing over the fact that Elvis died of drug abuse, of which he is partly responsible.
He also seems to talk as if he was in some way in charge of the autopsy, now although he was in the autopsy room he had little or no input into the procedure, only providing some back ground information on Elvis's history. He was not involved or consulted on any diagnostics. The final autopsy report (and don't get confused with Jerry Francisco's 4 page report here) states that Elvis died of polypharmacy, a conclusion reached by experts in the field and by toxicological testing. How he has the nerve to say otherwise merely confirms what a low-life he is.
Dr. Nick ,give the man (Elvis) some respect and dignity. Leave his constipation and colon private, please. This kind of gargage annoys me. Elvis was a good person and clearly the greatest entertainer of all time. Can we focus on that now,please after all these years?
I'm actually reading Dr. Nick's book. The guy had more than 30 years to prepare his version in order to put the blame elsewhere than on him. In fact, he tends for instance to point at some of the wrecking crew members ( the Stanley brothers ) to explain the lack of efficiency regarding how they handle the day to day life with Elvis from 74 to 77. Overall, Elvis's early death occured because of a series of contributing factors ( the main one being the self-destructive personality Elvis himself had in the first place ) + his wild way of life and also the overprescribing record from Dr.Nick was unfortunately part of it....even if he tries to get away with it. The placebo theories although prooves that he did try to control Elvis's bad habits but back then, no one could say no or play Elvis for a fool. It's easy to accuse someone thirty years after but on the other hand, I wouldn't have wanted to stand in Dr.Nick's shoes. It was a different era in the 70's, the reality of life was not as we know it today in 2010...we lost Elvis nevertheless, let's just keep his iconic musical legacy alive !!!
This is more information than one needs to know. Shame on you Nick. Note I cannot refer to him as Dr.
This made the british newspapers today! as shoesuedeblues predicted it appeared in a newspaper which, on the day after the UK general election, has a front page spread about a drunk footballer (it shall remain un-named). I can just about tollerate rubber ducks, but when a guy comes out and says this it makes me sick to my stomach. A doctor whos patient trusted him (forget its Elvis for a second) that comes out with his personal information to make a few dollars! there is no other reason but $$$$. I wish i could contact Dr Nick to tell him how he's making Elvis a laughing stock!
I wouldnt buy this book. This guy doesnt care about Elvis, he has no remorse for the blatant disregard for Elvis when he was alive and now 33 years later he writes this garbage to make a buck. Whether its true or not, its garbage. Does anyone think Elvis would want this being discussed and being revealed?? Imagine your most private medical files coming out into the public, its a disgrace. This issue should be closed on this website.
I read the book and was impressed by the Good Dr's never ending search for the truth. Truth in how much, over time, he can avoid taking the blame for what he did. I don't believe he whacked Elvis vis a vis poor medical mgt, but that he did not treat this guy correctly.
I agree, that at some point, any dr has to move on. They can only do so much. But, he did not show much imagination in treating Elvis or in trying to get him off the drugs. He made what seemed like 'routine' efforts, such as bringing in addiction drs and various others to treat his actual medical problems (glaucoma, et al).
The real problem I have, however, is that he didn't do all he could to get Presley into treatment, away from drugs, and into a safe environment. There, Elvis could recover and rebound. Those around all copt out, saying Elvis would never agree to it, but Nick never really clarified Elvis addiction and the need to do something like that to facilitate rehab. Instead, Nick functioned as they guy who kept Elvis doped up enough to get out on the road and make money. Those actions alone show us all where he was coming from. I have a hard believing his placebo claims (any dr will tell you placebos used like that don't work in drugs which cross the brain-blood barrior. In english, no buzz). Elvis probably figured it out right away and then just went to his other stash to cop a buzz. Nick should have been looking to see just how stoned Elvis was to see his methods weren't working.
As someone noted, Dr Nick just keeps going to the Elvis ATM and writes a book. All I can say is that it's probably better he's getting something out there. I just wish he'd fess up and let the truth be told. Right now, he's messaging it for a few bucks.