What Killed Rich Piana, When And How Did The American Bodybuilder Die?

An American bodybuilding sensation and businessman, Rich Piana was a man who took the world with his ripped muscles. Sadly, he passed away in the month of August 2017. According to sources, he was reportedly getting a haircut from his girlfriend when he suddenly collapsed. All efforts to revive him failed and he was placed on a medically induced coma for two weeks before he succumbed to the cold hands of death. Rich, who was 46 at the time, had competed and won several bodybuilding competitions over the years, including Mr. Teen California which he won in 1989 and the National Physique Committee (NPC) competitions in 2003 and 2009.

He was also the founder of a nutrition product line named “5% nutrition”, a brand dedicated to selling bodybuilding apparel and supplements globally.

Rich Piana’s Biography

Rich Piana was born on the 26th of September, 1970. He is of Armenian and Italian descent. His fascination with bodybuilding began at an early age, specifically when he was six years old. His mother competed regularly as a bodybuilder, so he was always with her at the gym where she trained. Apart from his mum, another notable influence was Bill Cambra. Rich began weightlifting at the age of 11. When he was 15, he started competing in bodybuilding contests. At this point he was already a senior in high school, so he stayed with his dad in La Crescenta, California.

The hard work paid off and accolades started rolling in when Rich Piana was 18 years old. He won the IFBB Mr. Teen California competition in 1989. in 1998, 9 years later, he was named IFBB Mr. California. His career spanned about 25 years in total. He won the National Physique Committee (NPC) competitions in the 2003 Los Angeles Super-Heavyweight Division, 2009 Sacramento Super-Heavyweight Division, and the 2009 Border States Classic Super-Heavyweight Division and overall championship.

Naturally, as a famous face, Rich Piana also scored some primetime on print and TV. He was featured on the cover of the November 1998 issue of Ironman magazine, an American publication which discusses bodybuilding, weightlifting, and powerlifting and has been in publication since 1936. On TV, he made a brief appearance as none other than The Incredible Hulk in an episode of the television series Scrubs, an American medical comedy-drama television series. Rich was also on an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, where he played an oiled-up muscle man character named Marcus. He also appeared to be one of the main focuses of a 2017 bodybuilding documentary titled Generation Iron 2.

During his lifetime and in the course of his career, Rich Piana practiced “Test and Deca”, a term in bodybuilding that involves a combination of testosterone, an anabolic steroid that is the primary male sex hormone and Deca-Durabolin.

What Killed Rich Piana?

Rich Piana
Rich Piana with girlfriend Chanel Jansen

There were speculations about his possible use of recreational drugs, foul play, or other unknown factors in his death. However, his girlfriend Jansen rejected the involvement of cocaine, heroin, or other drugs, stating he sometimes drank a pre-workout supplement of high-caffeine and did not use recreational drugs. An autopsy revealed “significant heart disease” and that his heart and liver weighed over twice the average amount for an adult male. Rich Piana knew that his organs had been enlarged and that this was a known side effect of the steroids and hormones he had taken since he started bodybuilding. However, he was not aware that this put him at risk for cardiac arrest.

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When And How Did The American Bodybuilder Die?

At 1:30 p.m. on the 7th of August, 2017, while receiving a haircut from his girlfriend at home, Rich Piana collapsed. Jansen called the emergency operator 911 and followed their directions to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation until paramedics reached her. Eventually, his heartbeat was restored, but only after so much time had gone by that brain damage had occurred due to the absence of oxygen. Paramedics administered Narcan after discovering an unidentified crushed white powder along with a straw and a credit card on the table in his home. Narcan is a medication used to counteract a possible overdose of opiate.

After about 2 weeks spent in an induced coma with the hospital trying to reduce the swelling in his brain, Rich Piana was confirmed dead on the 25th of August, 2017 at the age of 46; barely a month to his birthday. No toxicology assessment was conducted for the autopsy and the medical examiner was unable to access any toxicology assessment from the time of his hospital therapy. He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California.

Felix thephylix
Felix thephylix
As an avid traveler and world explorer, I have been to over 25 countries in the last 10 years. I've taken countless photos, written about my experiences in award-winning stories and documented my travels. My work has been featured in many top travel websites, including National Geographic Traveler and The Guardian.


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