Former Miss ND USA's sudden death at 37 caused by undiagnosed heart condition
MINNEAPOLIS-The former Miss North Dakota USA and Fargo resident who was found dead in Minneapolis in June died of an undiagnosed heart condition, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office.Samantha Edwards, 37, died of an arrhythm...
MINNEAPOLIS -- The former Miss North Dakota USA and Fargo resident who was found dead in Minneapolis in June died of an undiagnosed heart condition, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Samantha Edwards, 37, died of an arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart disease that causes part of the heart’s walls to wear away and sometimes doesn’t manifest until adulthood, the medical examiner said in a news release Thursday, Aug. 4.
Edwards’ mother, Laurie Sayre, wrote in a Facebook post that the condition was undiagnosed.
“If we had known, she could have been treated,” Sayre wrote Tuesday, Aug. 2. “We were lucky to have those 37 years. I thank God for her.”
Edwards, who was Miss North Dakota USA for 2003, was found dead in a Minneapolis residence on the morning of June 14.
She was crowned Miss North Dakota USA at the Fargo Theatre on Sept. 1, 2002. She had studied at the University of North Dakota and the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis. She worked for Fargo’s Q98 radio in 2003.
“Sad news out of the Peace Garden State today, Rest in Peace Samantha Edwards forever Miss ND USA 2003 who passed away suddenly this morning,” the Pageant Update posted on Facebook the night Edwards was found.
One of Edwards’ friends, 2004 Miss Minnesota USA Jessica Dereschuk of Minneapolis, started a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral and other expenses for Edwards and her family.
The page had raised about $17,000 the night after Edwards was found, and has so far raised about $20,000, easily beating the $15,000 goal.
“You left us all way too soon, but in true Diva style, you will have us talking about you forever,” Dereschuk wrote on the GoFundMe page. “You left [a] positive mark on this world and in my life and I will continue to live life with passion and love because I know that is what you would want. I will see you again my beautiful friend.”
Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy can cause sudden death, especially during strenuous exercise, according to the National Institutes of Health. Symptoms can include chest palpitations, light-headedness and fainting. Over time, it can also cause shortness of breath and swelling in the legs or abdomen.
The disease is found in an estimated 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 1,250 people, according to the NIH, and its often mild symptoms can result in it going undiagnosed.