T Nation

Jesse Marunde Autopsy Findings


Just saw this today and thought I would share. Since steroids were thought to be an issue in his death, turns out they were not is his system.



Wife says enlarged heart contributed to Strongman's death

By Michael Dashiell
Staff writer

Jesse Marunde, a Sequim resident who competed in Strongman competitions nationally and worldwide, died from an enlarged heart condition, his wife said last week.

Marunde collapsed July 25 after a training session. Despite attempts of CPR on the scene by friends and medical workers, Marunde died on the scene.

Callie Marunde, Jesse�??s wife, said her husband died from arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat or abnormal heart rhythm, after his workout because of an enlarged heart muscle.

Known as hypertrophic myocardium, Marunde�??s condition is a relatively rare genetic disease (one in 500 to one in 1,000) that, is �??the single most common cause of sudden death in otherwise healthy young people,�?? according to doctors from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The disease usually develops during adolescence during the period of rapid body growth but it may be present in childhood or even before birth, institute doctors said.

Callie Marunde said the family found one of Jesse�??s relatives had died at age 21 from a heart attack.

She said the autopsy and toxicology reports the family asked for in her husband�??s death �?? documents that are closed in Washington state to all but a few select persons (family members, the attending physician, law enforcement officials) clearly showed hypertrophic myocardium as cause of death.

Although the disease often isn�??t found for years and may not be a problem for people with moderate exercise habits, Jesse Marunde�??s routine was anything but moderate.

�??His heart has to work so much more,�?? Callie Marunde said. �??With the increased heart rate, it couldn�??t handle the workload.�??

She said if Jesse had to die that she felt fortunate it happened in Sequim rather than in a competition overseas and that he got so see their daughter (Jessica Joy) be born.

Marunde became a dominant figure in Strongman competitions, finishing second in the 2005 MetRx World�??s Strongest Man.

He also ran a gym in town with Callie and was personal trainer and workout partner for dozens of locals. He brought top athletes to Sequim for a Strongman competition at the Irrigation Festival each year.

After double knee surgery last year �?? one to repair a knee, the other an elective surgery to return to Strongman competitions �?? he was planning another run at the World�??s Strongest Man contest in Anaheim, Calif.

This summer, after a third-place finish at the Venice Beach Grand Prix, he qualified for the 2007 WSM event.

On July 25, he finished a series of squat sets, a 600-pound flip and 265-pound stone lift/load, according to workout partner John �??Sarge�?? Allen, who described the routine workout on Marunde-Muscle.com the couple�??s Web

After his workout, Marunde lay on his back and workout partners noticed his breathing became labored, Allen recalled. He became incoherent and stopped breathing.

He was 27 years old.


Very sad to hear it was out of his control but at least any whispering about drugs being the primary cause can be put to rest hopefully.


They won't because lots of people are POS internet warriors

My dad and grandfather both died of heart attacks young, scary stuff

R.I.P Jesse :frowning:


Tis such a shame he could'nt have nailed the WSM title =[


What is the cause of hypertrophic myocardium? Before anyone gets defensive (I'm a huge fan of Jesse's btw), I'm just curious if it's purely genetic or if caffeine (which most of us take in like it's going out of style) can exacerbate it or not.


I'm sorry what did you say? I was watching the avatar.


Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Check out this link for some more information, I actually thought this article was decent.



This thread is about how someone died prematurely in the near prime of their chosen career. Can we maybe show a little more respect please?


It's a shame that Jesse died so young. He promised a lot. He could have been the next WSM. I don't think the steroids are to blame here. :frowning:


I haven't checked on the net but when I did my cardiac rehab training (1999) I asked on of the UK's leading specialists what the effect of prolonged steroid use was on the heart.

I was told that it causes left ventricular hypertrophy which in turn causes the main blood pumping muscle to become inefficient; this could in turn lead to heart failure and heart attack.

I'm not saying this to disrespect the memory of Jesse; I met him at the Arnold Classic a couple of years ago and he seemed like a really good guy; but unfortunately it seems as though damage from steroid use coupled with his genetic disorder can't be discounted.

RIP Jesse



I have heard the "strength athletes get big hearts" theory from fellow doctors for thirty years. Hypertrophic myocardium simply means "enlarged heart muscle", although it can be a genetic or acquired condtion. I do think it is a risk we take, especially very large men making themselves even larger. I was warned by several doctors about this when I entered medical school, at the time still being very big (almost Jesse's size).
However, in the many years since, there has been much confliciting data about this. When hearts enlarge, they can at times simply do a better job. However, sometimes the enlargements are associated with cardiomyopathy, which means the heart muscle becomes dysfunctional, either less efficient at pumping blood out, or prone to electrical abnormalities leading to arrythmias. Usually it is the arrythmia which kills people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, although heart attacks can occur.
I will spend some extra time researching the latest on this. At 6-5 and 250 at 51, and wanting to compete in OL again at Masters level, I have debated bulking up back to 300. Things like this give me plenty of reason to think that would be a very risky thing to do. Genetic predispositions are very important, but so is what we do with our lives.
I was a huge Marunde fan. RIP. Doc


R.I.P Jesse



if you do a pub med search, there's a nice study looking at echocardiographic findings in heavyweight lifters (I believe powerlifters but I would have to hunt the thing down and it's been a few years since I read it). It subgrouped the lifters into those using anabolics and drug free and looked at LVH (left ventricular hypertrophy). The two groups were similar sized and the group on drugs was leaner. Ultimately, there was no significant LVH in the drug free group (a relief as there are, as you mention, concerns over increased mass of any type leading to LVH), and significant LVH in the group using anabolic steroids.

For the crowd- THIS DOES NOT MEAN JESSE MARUNDE WAS USING ANABOLIC DRUGS- the condition that these findings imply that he had is asymetric septal hypertrophy(ASH)/hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy(HOCUM)/ idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis (IHSS) - a hereditary disorder of myosin (one of the contractile elements of muscle) which results in the area separating the ventricles of the heart growing excessively and reducing outflow from the left ventricle during states of increased cardiac demand, potentially leading to congestive heart failure from reduced cardiac output or from cardiac ischemia from reduced flow to the coronaries.

Again- left ventricular hypertrophy (discussed above) and IHSS/ASH/HOCUM are not the same thing, and the family history of early sudden cardiac death and autopsy findings are about IHSS/ASH/HOCUM.

Hope this helps,



This is an excellent post, very technical but explains the complexity of Jesse's heart condition. For those of us who were fans and willingly submit ourselves to years of intense heavy training, the risks are of LVH are still small, increasing significantly only with extensive gear use with massive weight gain and increased BP, or genetic conditions like Jesse had.

The newer studies I saw appear quite biased in trying very hard to prove the AAS/LVH connection, and to a lesser degree a weightlifting/LVH association. One American Journal of Cardiology study showed clean elite Olympic lifters to have NO increased LVH, and upon reading the summary, the authors were clearly surprised, maybe even disappointed.

I fear that despite the fact that no steroids were found in Jesse's body, the public as a whole will chalk him up yet another example to support their primitive assumption that all big, muscular men must be using extensive gear and deserve whatever health problems they get.                                             Doc


I just hate the public.



Hey DPC,

yeah, most of what's out there definitely seems to be hunting for an association. I take that as reassuring as there are definitely reasons to be concerned about associations between cardiovascular disease and resistance training- notably the decreased vascular compliance seen in a couple of studies.

I try to do some long slow distance cardio for pure cardiovascular effect 4-5x/week in hopes of negating that effect. One piece of reassurance is up on medscape today- neither increased BMI nor abdominal girth >100cm are associated with increased mortality for people who are 'fit' (by some form of treadmill/METS measure). Again, reassuring as there are strong arguments that just being big (regardless of bodyfat or fitness) may carry some risk.



Andrew, your comments and Jesse's death got me thinking on the broader issue besides just cardiac factors. From way back in med school, we were taught that it was an absolute fact that human giants have a shortened life expectancy.

At the time, anybody over 2 meters tall was considered a giant, regardless whether they were "pituitary" giants or not. I remember this like yesterday, because I missed that 2 meter mark by 3 cm and felt that I gained years of life as a result.

I searched for some modern studies on large stature and reduced life expectancy, and associations are still there, although mechanisms of action are complicated. Excessive cell doubling, telomere length, all sorts of theories out there now.

I remember when Primo Carnera died, a true giant for his day, a 6-6, 300lb boxer with huge frame and strength. People used to accept that giants die young, just like Great Danes do (shame, my beloved favorite dogs). 

Now we have the specter of AAS, rightfully or wrongfully casting darkness on the early death of any modern day giant like Jesse. Sad.             Doc


A note:

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is not just something that is common in "big guys" i.e. strength athletes. It has also killed runners, triathletes, basketball players....etc.