Tragic death of Wigan care assistant at just 27 was due to natural causes

A Wigan care assistant with a “wonderful sense of humour” died at the age of 27 from natural causes, a coroner ruled.

Sarah Riley, from Bickershaw, felt unwell in the weeks before her death and was seen by several medical professionals.

An inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court heard she was treated for a chest infection, but was later found to have deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Despite being admitted to hospital, she died on May 4, 2019.

Sarah Riley
Read More
GPs in Wigan: The 12 surgeries with the longest waits for appointments in the bo...

Miss Riley had been active and passed selection tests for the army, before working as a school cook and then a carer.

But she had recurrent chest infections and pain in her wrist and hand, which doctors had been unable to diagnose.

The inquest heard paramedics were called on April 9 as she had chest pain.

Tests showed her heart rate was faster than normal and the crew wanted to take her to hospital, but she declined and instead went to an out-of-hours GP appointment.

The GP who saw Miss Riley at Claire House in Ince prescribed antibiotics for a chest infection and advised her to continue using her asthma inhaler.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Miss Riley had a GP appointment on April 17, when her heart rate was slightly elevated and she was referred for a chest X-ray.

Two days later, an ambulance was called and her heart rate was fast, but she again requested a GP appointment instead of going to A&E.

She saw the same GP at Claire House and he prescribed steroids to help with her asthma. He told the inquest there was no family history of thrombosis or DVT and she did not tell him about pain in her leg.

Miss Riley went to Royal Bolton Hospital on April 24 complaining of breathlessness and coughing up blood. Her heart rate was slightly fast, the inquest heard.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Doctors suspected she had either pulmonary embolism (PE) or an infection, so gave antibiotics and medication to break down blood clots.

She was discharged, but returned to hospital four days later as her condition had worsened.

Miss Riley had a cardiac arrest on May 3 and medics revived her, but another cardiac arrest the following day proved to be fatal.

A post-mortem examination showed Miss Riley had DVT in her legs and emboli – blood clots – had moved to her lungs and become lodged there, blocking the blood supply.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Consultant histopathologist Dr Patrick Waugh said: “There were many of them and they were small.”

He told the inquest that many young, healthy people may have PE and be unaware as their bodies can deal with it, but some cannot.

Dr Waugh also found Miss Riley’s heart was enlarged, but his examination did not reveal any issues with the heart muscle, valves and blood vessels.

He recorded she died of pulmonary thrombo emboli due to DVT.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But the inquest heard from doctors treating Miss Riley in hospital who said she had dilated cardiomyopathy – heart disease.

Consultant cardiologist Dr Peter Scott said a scan on May 1 showed her heart chambers were enlarged and she had “severely impaired left ventricular function”.

He believed her body was less able to respond to PE due to the heart condition.

Coroner Peter Sigee added dilated cardiomyopathy to her medical cause of death.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He recorded Miss Riley died of natural causes.