Actor Tanya Roberts has died at the age of 65 following a severe urinary tract infection (UTI) that spread to other organs in her body. Roberts starred in the James Bond film A View to a Kill and the TV shows That 70s Show and Charlie’s Angels.
There was some initial confusion after her death when several outlets reported Roberts’s death prematurely, according to the New York Times. But Roberts’s publicist, Mike Pingel, confirmed her passing in a press statement posted to the actor’s official website on January 5.
“With a heavy heart I can confirm the death of Tanya Roberts (age 65) last night on January 4, 2021, around 9:30pm P.T. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles CA,” the statement reads. “Her 18-year domestic partner, Lance O’Brien, received the phone call from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center last night at their home confirming her passing.” Roberts’s cause of death was a UTI that spread to her kidney, gallbladder, liver, and ultimately, her blood stream, according to the statement.
In most cases, a UTI is a painful nuisance that clears up with antibiotic treatment. But sometimes, especially if the infection is left untreated, a UTI can spread up the urinary tract and cause more severe infections in organs like the kidneys (called pyelonephritis). Without treatment, the infection can spread further into other parts of the body and cause severe complications, including a life-threatening condition called sepsis.
Sepsis is a surprisingly common complication that can develop from a variety of infections, as SELF reported previously. It develops in at least 1.7 million adults in the U.S. every year, causing almost 270,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, the CDC estimates that about one in three patients who dies in a hospital has sepsis. It occurs when an infection (typically a bacterial infection, such as a UTI) triggers an overly extreme, chain-reaction response from the body, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Symptoms may include rapid breathing and heart rate, serious pain, fever, shortness of breath, confusion, or clammy skin.
There are multiple stages of sepsis that become increasingly serious, as SELF reported. Without immediate treatment, severe cases of sepsis can lead to something called septic shock, a condition in which the blood pressure falls to dangerously low levels—causing tissue damage, multiple organ failure, and death, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. That’s why it’s vital to get treatment as soon as possible, which may include antibiotics to treat the source of the infection, oxygen and IV fluids to help maintain blood flow to the organs, or medications to help bring up blood pressure.
Anybody who has an infection can develop sepsis, but there are certain risk factors that put you at higher risk for the condition, include being over the age of 65, having certain chronic conditions (like diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer), having a weakened immune system, or being pregnant. Sepsis often begins with infections in the kidneys, bladder, stomach, or lungs, or with a post-surgery infection, the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains. It can also be a complication of COVID-19, the CDC says.
An online memorial for Roberts will be announced, and the family asks for privacy while they mourn, her publicist’s statement says. For now, fans and well-wishers are encouraged to express their condolences by supporting a cause close to Roberts’s heart. Because Roberts was an animal rights activist, her family is asking for donations to be given in Roberts’s name to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the statement says.
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