Coroner Reveals Cause of Death for Congressman Andy Barr's Wife, Who Died Suddenly at 39

After Kentucky Rep. Andy Barr's wife, Eleanor Carol Leavell Barr, died suddenly age the age of 39 Tuesday night in their Lexington home, the Fayette County coroner has released her preliminary autopsy results. Coroner Gary Ginn told PEOPLE Thursday that Carol's death had been the result of a heart condition called mitral valve prolapse.

MVP, which is also known as floppy valve syndrome or Barlow's syndrome, occurs when the flaps of the heart's mitral valve "bulge like a parachute" into the heart's left upper chamber as the heart contracts, which sometimes leads to blood leaking backward into the left atrium, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition is generally harmless and presents without symptoms, but can cause issues for others.

Ginn said that Carol was found in her home office when first responders arrived at the family's home. "It was sad. We got a young mother that we don’t have a cause of death for. There’s no explanation for it at the scene. Obviously, an autopsy was necessary to determine the exact cause of death," he said.

Barr called his wife "dear and precious" in his own statement. "At this time of tremendous grief and pain, we ask for prayers for our beautiful, dear and precious Carol, the greatest, most selfless and giving wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend anyone could ever have," he said.

The Republican lawmaker and healthcare representative for Pfizer married in 2008 and shared daughters Eleanor, 9, and Mary Clay, 7. Carol graduated from the University of Kentucky and previously served as the executive director for the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship.


Other U.S. Congress members shared their memories of Carol after her death, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "Elaine and I are stunned and heartbroken at the news of Carol’s passing," McConnell said in a statement Wednesday. "Her warmth filled whatever room she entered and her contributions made Kentucky a better place for all of us. And to Eleanor and Mary Clay, Carol was a wonderful role model and source of constant love. We send our sincere condolences to Andy, their family and his staff at this terribly painful time."

Sen. Rand Paul from Kentucky tweeted of the news that same day, "Our hearts are heavy tonight. Kelley and I offer our deepest condolences to Rep. Andy Barr, his two daughters, family, and friends. Please join us in praying for them during this incredibly difficult time."