Errors corrected in Sun article about Ray Liotta’s cause of death

10 May 2023
What was claimed

Respiratory insufficiency means fluid in the lungs and pulmonary edema means acute heart failure.

Our verdict

Pulmonary oedema (or edema) means fluid in the lungs, and while it is most commonly caused by heart failure, other conditions can cause it. This fluid can then cause respiratory insufficiency, which again has other possible causes.

What was claimed

Atherosclerosis causes diabetes.

Our verdict

This is the wrong way round. Diabetes can sometimes cause atherosclerosis.

The Sun made some errors when reporting the cause of death of the Goodfellas actor Ray Liotta, who passed away last year

Bad information about health can confuse people about the causes and treatments of illnesses, create distrust in medical professionals, and distract from important public health messages.

The original article contained the following claims about Mr Liotta’s death:

"[...] it was said to be connected to respiratory insufficiency (fluid in his lungs) and pulmonary edema (acute heart failure)."

“According to reports, he also suffered from atherosclerosis - which is a thickening of arteries that often leads to diabetes and other health problems, including heart attacks and strokes."

These definitions are not correct. Pulmonary oedema is in fact the medical term for  excessive fluid in the lungs, which can occur as a result of heart failure (among other causes). This fluid can then cause respiratory insufficiency or failure, which is when the lungs are unable to get enough oxygen into the blood for other organs and tissues to work.

Diabetes has been found to lead to atherosclerosis, not the other way around.

After we contacted the Sun, it corrected the article.

Featured image courtesy of Barry Wetcher and Warner Bros.

We took a stand for good information.

As detailed in our fact check, The Sun amended its article.

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