Remembering Tina Turner: Her Courageous Battle with Health Problems

The artist who conquered the world with her voice and dancing passed away at the age of 83. For decades, she battled several illnesses and, in 2017, she had undergone a kidney transplant.
Remembering Tina Turner: Her Courageous Battle with Health Problems
Diego Pereira

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Diego Pereira.

Written by Jonatan Menguez

Last update: 27 May, 2023

On May 24th, 2023, the death of singer Tina Turner was announced. While the specific causes of death were not disclosed, the statement from her family assures that “she left peacefully after a long illness”. Turner battled several health problems during her lifetime, including hypertension, kidney failure and colon cancer.

Tina Turner departs at the age of 83

In a statement, Tina Turner’s family announced her death on May 24th. The “Queen of Rock and Roll” departed at the age of 83 at her home in Küsnacht, northern Switzerland, the country in which she adopted nationality in 2013. Although the details of the death were not disclosed, it’s known that the singer suffered from a complex history of struggle with various diseases.

In 1978, Turner was diagnosed with high blood pressure, a condition that was not treated properly, as she revealed decades later. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this “silent disease” affects an estimated 116 million adults in the United States. While that number rises to more than 1 billion worldwide.

The same publication suggests that hypertension is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease events. For example, heart failure and strokes. Meanwhile, an article in the journal Nature Reviews explains that less than half of people with hypertension are aware of their condition.

Others, despite knowing it, don’t receive adequate treatment, even though it can reduce the overall burden of disease and mortality.

What health problems did she face?

By the late 1970s, Tina was already an international star. Her success was due to her hits with the band she formed with Ike Turner, her first husband, and her early solo work. It was at that time that she was diagnosed with high blood pressure. During subsequent interviews, she claimed not to have received the necessary information about its seriousness.

Despite this, she was prescribed medication, which she preferred not to take, believing that it was a “normal condition” and didn’t need to be monitored. His health worsened dramatically in 2009, when she suffered a stroke and publicly revealed that her kidneys had lost 35% of their function. The condition recurred 4 years later, and it was then that the singer needed to start dialysis to treat kidney failure.

According to a study by the Pan American Journal of Public Health, more people die annually from cardiovascular diseases (CVD) than from any other cause. The same publication indicates that, in 2012, an estimated 17.5 million people died from CVD. Furthermore, by 2030, CVD is expected to cause 22 million deaths per year.

The transplant that saved her life

In 2016, Tina Turner was diagnosed with colon cancer, a condition whose complexity was further increased by her kidney failure. The following year, Erwin Bach, her second husband, offered to donate a kidney to her, as the renal function of her organs had dropped to 5%.

The transplant was carried out in 2017 and, despite the complex recovery and her body’s resistance to an unknown agent, Tina’s condition improved. By 2020, with the arrival of the global pandemic, the singer said that she faced another health challenge. Nevertheless, she carried out the necessary care and told us that she felt healthy.

Becoming aware

In mid-March this year, on the occasion of World Kidney Day, Turner made a post on her Instagram to raise awareness about kidney disease. She claimed that she herself put her life in danger when she ignored the serious symptoms and consequences that these conditions bring.

She also confessed that her kidneys were victims of not treating her blood pressure with conventional medicine. This disease usually doesn’t give symptoms most of the time, hence the diagnoses are given their due importance on many occasions. When it manifests as an emergency, the following symptoms may appear:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Nosebleeds
  • Severe headaches
  • A feeling of confusion
  • Changes in vision

According to another study in the Pan American Journal of Public Health, high blood pressure is the most important reversible risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The publication suggests that 17% of deaths from these diseases in the region are attributed to hypertension.

Farewell to Tina Turner after a courageous fight against health problems

The world is mourning the departure of a musical legend. In addition to her artistic legacy, stage prowess and iconic styles, Tina gave us an example of how to fight serious illness. The “Queen of Rock and Roll” strove to raise awareness, right up to her last moment, of the importance of treating the kidney conditions that afflicted her for years.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Carey, R. M., Moran, A. E., & Whelton, P. K. (2022). Treatment of Hypertension: A ReviewJAMA, 328(18), 1849–1861. Consultado el 25 de mayo de 2023.
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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.