NEW YORK -- Dr. Robert Atkins (search), whose popular diet stresses protein-rich meat and cheese over carbohydrates (search), weighed 258 pounds at his death and had a history of heart disease (search), a newspaper reported Tuesday.
Atkins died last April at age 72 after being injured in a fall on an icy street.
Before his death, he had suffered a heart attack, congestive heart failure and hypertension, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a report by the city medical examiner.
At 258 pounds, the 6-foot-tall Atkins would have qualified as obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's body-mass index calculator.
Diet is one potential factor in heart disease, but infections also can contribute to it.
Stuart Trager, chairman of the Atkins Physicians Council in New York, told the Journal that Atkins' heart disease stemmed from cardiomyopathy, a condition thought to result from a viral infection.
Atkins' weight was due to bloating associated with his condition, and he had been much slimmer during most of his life, Trager said.
The medical examiner's report was given to the Journal by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group that advocates vegetarianism. The medical examiner's office told the Journal that the report had been sent to the group in error.
There was no immediate response Tuesday to a call seeking additional comment from the medical examiner's office.
The diet guru's widow, Veronica Atkins, was outraged that the report had been made public.
"I have been assured by my husband's physicians that my husband's health problems late in life were completely unrelated to his diet or any diet," she told the Journal.
Last month, Veronica Atkins demanded an apology from Mayor Michael Bloomberg after Bloomberg called her late husband "fat."
In April 2002, Atkins issued a statement saying he was recovering from cardiac arrest related to a heart infection he had suffered from "for a few years." He said it was "in no way related to diet."
Related or not, it's pretty ironic.