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George Michael died of natural causes, British coroner says

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/7/2017
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LONDON (AP) — George Michael died of natural causes as the result of heart disease and a fatty liver, a British coroner said Tuesday.

Darren Salter, senior coroner for the county of Oxfordshire in southern England, said a post-mortem has found that the singer died of "dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis and fatty liver."

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the left ventricle of the heart becomes stretched and weakened, limiting the heart's ability to pump blood. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle.

The former Wham! singer-songwriter was found dead at his country home in Oxfordshire on Dec. 25. He was 53. FILE - In this Dec. 2, 1993 file photo, George Michael performs at "Concert of Hope" to mark World AIDS Day at London's Wembley Arena. According to a publicist on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016, the singer has died at the age of 53. (AP Photo/Gill Allen) © The Associated Press George Michael

An initial autopsy failed to determine the cause of death for the star, who had battled health problems and drug addiction.

Salter said that because Michael died of natural causes, there will be no coroner's inquest or further inquiries. In Britain, inquests are held to determine the facts of unexplained deaths.

Police initially investigated and took witness statements in order to establish the facts surrounding Michael's death, which they called "unexplained but non-suspicious."

Wham!, formed by Michael and his friend Andrew Ridgeley, topped charts in the 1980s with exuberant pop hits including "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," ''Young Guns (Go For It)" and "Freedom." Michael went on to a solo career studded with major hits including "Careless Whisper" and "Faith" and sold more than 100 million albums around the world. George Michael performs with Wham! at Live Aid in 1985 © PA Wire/PA Images George Michael performs with Wham! at Live Aid in 1985

He suffered problems with drugs and alcohol, however, and in 2010 was briefly jailed after crashing his Range Rover into a shop front near his London home while high on prescription drugs and marijuana.

Michael had experienced health problems including a bout of pneumonia in 2011 that saw him hospitalized in intensive care. He said later it had been "touch and go" whether he would survive.

Michael's former partner, Kenny Goss, has said he thinks the musician's body "just gave up."

Dilated cardiomyopathy can be an inherited condition, or can be caused by factors such as viral infections and high blood pressure. Myocarditis is usually caused by a viral, bacterial or fungal infection, while fatty liver disease can be caused by alcohol, or by other factors that cause a buildup of fat in the liver.

Michael's death prompted an outpouring of recognition for his musical gifts as well as his charitable work in support of causes including AIDS groups, cancer charities and Childline, which offers confidential phone counseling for young people. FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2012 file photo, British singer George Michael performs at a concert to raise money for the AIDS charity Sidaction, during the Symphonica tour at Palais Garnier Opera house in Paris, France. Michael, who rocketed to stardom with WHAM! and went on to enjoy a long and celebrated solo career lined with controversies, has died, his publicist said Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016. He was 53. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File): George Michael in 2012 © The Associated Press George Michael in 2012

Paying tribute to Michael at the Brit Awards last month, Ridgeley said that with his death, "a supernova in a firmament of shining stars has been extinguished."

At the Grammys, Adele performed Michael's song "Fastlove" — restarting the rendition because she said the tribute was "too important" to mess up.

This Oct. 14, 2011 file photo shows actress Debbie Reynolds posing for a portrait in New York. In Memoriam 2016

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