Actor and recording artist Jansen Panettiere, the younger brother of “Nashville” and “Heroes” actor Hayden Panettiere, died suddenly of heart complications, his family said.
“Although of little comfort, the medical examiner reported that Jansen’s sudden death was due to cardiomegaly (enlarged heart), in combination with aortic valve complications,” his mother, Lesley Vogel, father, Skip Panettiere and sister said in a Monday statement to ABC News.
Cardiomegaly is not a disease, but rather a sign of another condition that can cause the heart to enlarge, according to the Mayo clinic. Heart damage and certain types of heart disease can cause an enlarged heart, as can short-term stress on the body.
After reportedly missing a meeting earlier this month, the 28-year-old was found unresponsive by friends at his New York apartment on February 19, TMZ reported. Representatives for the family did not immediately respond to The Times’ requests for comment on Monday.
The family chose to emphasize the figurative features of Panettiere’s heart rather than the literal qualities in the rest of their statement.
“Jansen’s heart showed in his eyes, and his charm in his brilliant, winning smile; his soul in his masterful and revealing paintings, and the joy of life in his dry wit,” the family statement said. “His charisma, warmth, compassion for others and his creative spirit will live forever in our hearts and in the hearts of everyone he encountered.”
The family added that they appreciated the outpouring of support as they “navigate this unthinkable loss” and asked that they “grant our privacy at this time of mourning.”
Panettiere landed his first TV role in the Disney Channel comedy ‘Even Stevens’ and built a body of work with voice credits for the animated films ‘Robots’ and ‘Ice Age: The Meltdown’, as well as on-screen parts in ‘The Martial Arts Kid ‘, Nickelodeon’s series ‘Blue’s Clues’ and the movie ‘The Last Day of Summer’, and played Casper in AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’. He and his sister Hayden, 33, who starred in ABC’s country music drama “Nashville,” also appeared together in the 2004 Disney movie “Tiger Cruise” and the 2005 movie “Racing Stripes.”
As an artist, Panettiere also exhibited his colorful works of art on Instagram and, just weeks before his death, posted a picture of his older sister happily cutting his curly hair.