Everyone who has ever laughed at a Bernie Mac joke was saddened to hear of his premature death at age 50 this weekend, due to complications of sarcoidosis. Not many people know what sarcoidosis is. The cause of sarcoidosis remains unknown but it is a systemic disease resulting in inflammation. Granulomas (masses of tissue) are a common feature and are found most often in the lungs. The disease affects women more than men and blacks more than other races.
Sarcoidosis is a more severe disease in blacks than in other races, [Sarcoidosis, Medical Clinics of North America, Volume 89, Issue 4 (July 2005) Cox, Christopher MD, MPH et al] lung involvement is worse as is long term prognosis. Investigators are looking into environmental factors as a possible trigger for the disease as no genetic markers have been found to date.
Over 85% of people with sarcoidosis have pulmonary problems. Some are candidates for lung transplants. Symptoms (if any) of sarcoidosis are similar to those of many other diseases:
Treatment, if any is needed, is usually with corticosteroids and immunosuppressive agents. We are all grateful for the joy and laughter Bernie Mac brought to our lives during his all too short stay on this earth.