“American Idol” Alum Mandisa's Cause of Death Was 'Complications from Obesity' — Here's What That Really Means

The Grammy-winning singer's cause of death wasn't obesity specifically, it was due to complications caused by the condition

<p>Paras Griffin/Getty</p>

Paras Griffin/Getty

'American Idol' alum Mandisa in 2019.
  • American Idol alum Mandisa was only 47 when she was found dead at her home in April

  • Her cause of death was determined to be complications from class III obesity, which Dr. Nisha Parikh, assistant director for women’s heart health at Northwell, says can cause multiple life-threatening health issues

  • Parikh explains some of the potential complications due to obesity, including diabetes, heart issues, and blood clots

American Idol alum and Grammy winner Mandisa was only 47 she was found dead at her home in April. The cause of death was later determined to be complications from class III obesity.

“Obesity is definitely associated with premature deaths,” Dr. Nisha Parikh, assistant director for women’s heart health at Northwell tells PEOPLE. However, it’s “probably not the obesity itself directly causing death in most cases, but rather the different conditions that obesity is associated with such as high blood pressure, diabetes, alterations in cholesterol, dyslipidemia (high cholesterol); obesity also predisposes to heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and even arrhythmias.”

As Parikh tells PEOPLE, the higher the class of obesity, the more severe the risks.

<p>Jason Merritt/FilmMagic</p> Mandisa on season 5 of 'American Idol' with Ryan Seacrest in 2006.

Jason Merritt/FilmMagic

Mandisa on season 5 of 'American Idol' with Ryan Seacrest in 2006.

While authorities did not disclose the specific obesity complication that caused Mandisa’s death, Parikh explains, “Your risk of heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and also even blood clots are, or could be, another sort of theoretical cause of of dying from an obesity-related condition.”

Related: A Look Back at Mandisa's Ups and Downs Following the Grammy-Winning American Idol Alum's Death at 47

Blood clots are a concern, she says, because “with obesity, some people can develop less robust muscles that allow the veins to pump the blood back to the heart. Some obese individuals tend to be a little bit less mobile and so they're not moving around as much. That sedentary activity can lead to the blood clot formation as well.”

If you’re concerned about your weight, Parikh says, “See your doctor first and foremost.”

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“Women in particular, our studies have shown, tend to go to the doctor less when we are overweight, or certainly even obese — we're like, ‘Let me lose, you know, 5 or 10 lbs., and then I'll go see my doctor because I want my numbers to look good.’ “

“I would counsel women to just stop that kind of thinking, because as physicians, we want to see you right now.”

<p>Scott Legato/Getty</p> Mandisa performs Auburn Hills, Mich., in 2017.

Scott Legato/Getty

Mandisa performs Auburn Hills, Mich., in 2017.

And apart from obesity as an individual problem, Parikh says, “We have to really think of this more as a societal problem, because we live in an obesogenic society. Taking a look at ourselves is really important, as a society thinking about how we got here is really important, and the steps we could do to change it.”

Related: American Idol Remembers 'Adored Icon' Mandisa with Special Tribute Performance

“We have to hold accountable the different sources of food that we have available to us," she added. "And ask for better built environment — so more green spaces for walking, safe spaces for us to walk and to get exercise.”

“Those are the types of things that we can advocate for,” she said. “Looking at it with a public health lens is also important.”

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