Nicholas Baker was a drug addict with mental health problems who apparently happened to use anabolic steroids at one point in his life.
Nicholas Baker died at the age of 33 years old on April 29, 2018. An inquest determined that the immediate cause of death was “central nervous system depression” caused by an “overdose of dihydrocodeine”. Cocaine was also identified in his system by the medical examiner.
Baker had struggled with drug addiction since 2015. In the days leading up to his deadly drug overdose, he was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Newport suffering from drug-induced agitation, paranoia and grandiose delusions. He was released after the drugs cleared his system and the delusions subsided.
Baker was found with 17 self-inflicted superficial stab wounds to his abdomen while experiencing cardiac arrest prior to his death.
So you may be surprised to hear that the local news reported the story with the headline “Cocaine and steroid use led to death of East Cowes man”.
Steroids resulted in an enlarged heart according to coroner.
Baker had apparently experimented with anabolic steroids at some point over the past couple of years. Even though no steroids were found in his system during the post-mortem, Isle of Wight Coroner Caroline Sumeray concluded anabolic steroids, in addition to cocaine, were contributing factors in his death.
The post-mortem examination revealed that Baker had a significantly enlarged heart. Anabolic steroid use is associated with left ventricular hypertrophy. This seemed to be the basis for the coroner’s conclusion that anabolic steroids contributed to his death.
However, the coroner failed to note that chronic cocaine use, consistent with the patterns of use by an addict, is also known to result in left ventricular hypertrophy.
Baker’s cocaine and psychoactive drug abuse seem like the most likely culprits in his death given the circumstances of his death. After all, drug addicts die of overdoses all the time. Anabolic steroids probably did not have anything to do with it.
Unfortunately, as steroids become increasingly demonized, coroners are increasingly listing the muscle-building drug as an official cause of death.
Interestingly, Coroner Caroline Sumeray chastised the department responsible for handling of the investigation into Baker’s death. Specifically, Sumeray stated that the people who carried out the investigation were not adequately qualified and provided “guesswork” in their conclusions.
“In my humble opinion, the wrong people are being chosen to carry out the Serious Incident investigations,” Sumeray stated. “I am not prepared to sit back and acquiesce on this. We can’t have guesswork in these reports.” (emphasis added)
And yet, Coroner Sumeray seemed perfectly content to repeat the obvious guesswork that steroids were responsible.
Little, L. (March 26, 2019). Isle of Wight Coroner halts inquest to ask IW NHS chief executive to attend. Retrieved from countypress.co.uk/news/17527294.isle-of-wight-coroner-halts-inquest-to-ask-iw-nhs-chief-executive-to-attend/