Woman dies after 16-year anorexia battle in “worst case” that doctors had ever seen
31-year-old weighed 4.7 stone So thin organs had ‘died’ through lack of blood supplyDeveloped symptoms aged twelve and spent rest of life in specialist units
“Suffered an extremely severeillness which eventually took her life”
Doctors said that Kate Chilver had one of “the worst” cases of anorexia they had ever seen
A young woman who died after battling a 16-year eating disorder had one of “the worst” cases of anorexia doctors had ever seen, an inquest heard today.
Kate Chilver, 31, weighed 4.7 stone and was so thin that parts of her stomach and bowel had ‘died’ through lack of blood supply.
She developed symptoms of the disease aged twelve and spent the rest of her life in specialist medical units until eventually dying from anorexia nervosa.
Doctors revealed that for almost two decades Miss Chilver from Ealing, west London, was dangerously underweight.
A healthy BMI (body mass index) is between 20 and 25 while a reading of less than 15 signals severe anorexia, but hers remained less than 12 and at one stage at fell to just nine.
Dr Frances Connan, a consultant psychologist who treated her at Vincent Square Clinic in south west London, said: “I’d known Kate since her referralto our service in 2004.
“She had onset anorexia from the age of about 12, her first admission just before she was 15.
“She had the most severe illness of patient I have ever come across.
“At times her BMI went down as low as9. It’s extremely rare to see a BMI of less than 10.”
Doctors fed her through a tube ina bid to boost her health but all attempts failed.
Over the years she was released twice, both for six month periods, but on both occasions her weight quickly returned to life-threatening levels and she was readmitted to eating disorder units and hospitals.
During the 16-year battle it was reported that Miss Chilver didn’t respond to medication, was unable to “engage” in psychotherapy and would “over exercise”.
A post mortem foundher heart was less than half the size it should have been, and she weighed less than 30kg or 66lb.
An eating disorder and a serious mental health condition
People with anorexia have problems with eating, meaning they are very anxious about their weight and keep it as low as possible by strictly controlling and limiting what they eat
Many people will also exercise excessively to lose weight
Some people will also binge eat, i.e. they eat a lot of food in a short space of time. they then try to get rid of the food from their body by vomiting or using laxatives
Symptoms usually begin gradually, such as adopting a restrictive diet and often spiral out of control quickly
The leading cause of mental health-related deaths
Most cases of anorexia develop in girls and women usually during the teenage years
Anorexia also affects 1 in every 2,000 men
The cause is unknown, but most experts believe the condition results from a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors
Around 20-30 per cent of people with anorexia do not respond to treatment, and around 5 per cent will die from complications caused by malnutrition
If you”re having problems with an eating disorder please contact www.b-eat.co.uk
Recording a death of natural causes due to anorexia nervosa, Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox said: “Dr Connan described her as the most unwell patient she had ever treated.
“A very experienced pathologist, Dr Michael Osborn, said that at the time he performed his examination Kate was the thinnest person he ever had to investigate.”
Miss Chilver tried to hide the extent of her eating disorder while her mother Lynne tried to make life as normal as possible, regularly taking her out on day trips.
But in the days leading up to her death, shestarted experiencing abdominal discomfort, and crippled by pain was transferred to Chelsea and Westminster hospital on July 10 this year.
At hospital medics discovered tissue in her bowel and stomach had died because of poor circulation.
This was because her arteries had closed from pressure inside the body, as there was no intra-abdominal fat to “cushion” them.
As her body was “so starved” surgery wasn”t an option and she diedin an intensive care unit on 12 July this year.
Dr Wilcox added: “What happened to Kate was extremely rare complications and unpredictable.
“Blood vessels are normally cushioned by fat but Kate had a complete absence of intra-abdominal fat to provide this.
“It’s quite clear from the evidence of all the doctors and her mother that Kate suffered an extremely severeillness which eventually took her life.”
Anorexia is the leading cause of mental health-related deaths and Miss Chilver was sectioned under the mental health act, and remained so until the time of her death.
One in every 200 women and one in every 2,000 men is affected and around 5 per cent of sufferers will die from complications caused by malnutrition.