Bond girl and “That ’70s Show” star Tanya Roberts died Monday night at age 65 after being hospitalized with an illness unrelated to COVID-19, TODAY confirmed. Roberts’ longtime partner Lance O’Brien said TODAY on Tuesday that she was hospitalized with a urinary tract infection that had spread to the kidneys and gallbladder, which played a role in his death.
Urinary tract infections are the most common type of outpatient infection, with 50 to 60% of adult women developing at least one in their lifetime, according to a recent study published in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Urology. What is much less common, however, is dying from a urinary tract infection, said Dr. Kameelah Phillips, OB-GYN at Calla Women’s Health in New York today.
“People don’t die from a simple urinary tract infection,” she explained. “People die from … complications from a urinary tract infection called sepsis. This is when the bacteria that cause a bladder infection spread into the bloodstream. And when they spread through the bloodstream, they can cause what we call multisystem organ failure, and it can lead to death. “
How can a urinary tract infection lead to sepsis?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sepsis is the body’s extreme response to infection. A simple infection can set off a “chain reaction” in the body, and without treatment, sepsis can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.
With UTIs in particular, “the amount of bacteria (can) overwhelm the bladder system, and the bacteria leave the bladder and enter the blood chain because you have blood vessels running through your bladder,” Phillips explained. . The amount of bacteria can make this more likely, as can the type of bacteria. Some types are more prone to leaving the urinary system than others, Phillips said.
UTIs that lead to sepsis, a condition called urosepsis, are more common in older people, Phillips said.
Part of this may be because older people may be asymptomatic and not be treated for longer, she explained.
“Older people tend to have weaker immune systems,” added Phillips, and underlying health issues. “(It) can also impact your body’s response to treatment … and sometimes make it more difficult for you to recover from symptoms,” she said.
It is “not very common” for a UTI to lead to sepsis, according to Phillips.
“Women shouldn’t be afraid that their average urinary tract infection is killing them,” she stressed. “(But) it teaches us that we shouldn’t ignore the symptoms of UTIs and need to go to the doctor. If you think you have symptoms, have your urine checked rather than just ignoring it or trying to treat it over the counter. “
It is important to be aware of the symptoms of UTIs, which may include:
- Pain or burning sensation when urinating
- Frequent urination
- Feel the need to go to the bathroom despite an empty bladder
- Bloody urine
- Pressure or cramps in the groin
Roberts’ rep first told media she died on Sunday evening, but news broke Monday morning that Roberts was still alive. Her representative later confirmed that she died on Monday evening.
Roberts was best known for playing Stacey Sutton in the 1985 James Bond film “A View to a Kill” and Midge Pinciotti on “That ’70s Show” between 1998 and 2004.
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: