Medical Experts Suspect Godfrey Gao's Death Was Due To Him Overworking And Staying Up Late
Godfrey Gao, a Taiwanese-Canadian model and actor, who died of a heart attack on Wednesday morning, 27 November, repeatedly exclaimed: "I can't go on anymore" before he suddenly collapsed at 1.45am on the set of a Chinese sports variety show 'Chase Me'
The popular Chinese reality TV show tests the endurance level of its contestants, according to a BuzzFeed News report, which said that at the time of the incident "Gao was filming an episode of the adrenaline-fuelled show that involves people competing with celebrities in sports challenges".
Gao was born in Taiwan to a Taiwanese father and a Malaysian mother, who is from Penang.
The 35-year-old was a guest participant on the Chinese reality TV show 'Chase Me'.
A report in Today Online said that Gao had been doing a running challenge and when he suffered the cardiac arrest, the production staff thought that the actor was being a bit dramatic for the camera
The report said that Zhejiang television, the Chinese production company cum the state-owned network that airs the program, has a history of apparently shoddy safety practices on their shows' sets.
While Zhejiang TV released a statement saying that its medical staff immediately rushed the actor to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead, fans on Weibo criticised the show and the network.
Medical experts have since speculated that the actor's sudden cardiac death was likely caused by him overworking and staying up late
According to a report in Oriental Daily, the chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at National Taiwanese University Hospital, Fang Cheng-Chung, has speculated that the sudden cardiac death experienced by Godfrey was due to his often stressful lifestyle as well as staying up late into the night.
Mr Fang said that such a lifestyle can lead to extreme stress and impaired heart rate.
He also said that lack of sleep for a long period of time can lead to an acute cardiovascular disease despite the individual eating a balanced diet and regularly exercising.
The actor had reportedly been working for 17 hours from when the shoot began on Tuesday at 8:30am until he collapsed at around 2am the next day
NBC News reported that Gao appeared to have a cold on the day of his death.
He shouted out "I can't go on" before he fell, according to online comments from those who said they had witnessed the scene, reported NBC News.
Meanwhile, Today Online reported that the reality TV show is known for its format of having participants race around the city at night, which required guest stars to shoot into the wee hours.
The process meant that the participants' physical endurance suffered further strains.
In an earlier episode of the show, an Olympic gymnast and a boxing world champion - who are no strangers to gruelling physical training - struggled with the show's demanding challenges.
Additionally, according to an industry insider, who was quoted by the Global Times, it is very normal for TV show staff including crew and stars to stay up late into the night.
The employee said the stars even work 72 straight hours at times.
"When staying late becomes part of a profession, when risking their lives becomes appropriate…who is going to protect who?" Chinese actress Song Jia said on Weibo after Gao's death.
The 35-year-old actor's sudden cardiac death, which reportedly claims about more than half a million lives in China each year, often affects middle-aged people who suffer from coronary heart diseases
According to Sun Hongtao, an associate chief physician at the Fuwai Cardiovascular Hospital in Beijing, despite receiving emergency medical attention, the chance of survival was only about 20 to 30%.
"Entertainers are one of the groups with a high risk of sudden cardiac death as they often stay up late and don't have regular work and rest," Sun was quoted as saying by the Global Times.