Hayden Panettiere and family reveal brother Jansen Panettiere’s cause of death

A smiling sister and brother lean their heads to gether
“Scream” and “Heroes” actor Hayden Panettiere, left, and her family break their silence on the cause of death of her younger brother Jansen Panettiere, right.
(Amanda Edwards / Getty Images)

Actor and artist Jansen Panettiere, the younger brother of “Nashville” and “Heroes” actor Hayden Panettiere, died suddenly of heart complications, his family said.

“It is with great sorrow we share the tremendous, untimely loss of our beautiful Jansen. Though it offers little solace, the Medical Examiner reported Jansen’s sudden passing was due to cardiomegaly (enlarged heart), coupled with aortic valve complications,” his mother Lesley Vogel, father Skip Panettiere and sister said in a Monday statement obtained by The Times.

Cardiomegaly isn’t a disease but, rather, a sign of another condition that could be causing the heart to increase in size, according to the Mayo Clinic. Heart damage and certain types of heart disease can cause an enlarged heart, as well as 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 Feb. 19, TMZ reported. Representatives for the family did not share additional details about the manner of death when reached Monday by The Times.

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The family instead chose to highlight the figurative characteristics of Panettiere’s heart rather than the literal qualities in the rest of their statement.

“Jansen’s heart could be seen in his eyes, and his charm in his brilliant, engaging 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 all whom he encountered.”

The family added that they appreciated the outpouring of support as they “navigate this unthinkable loss” and asked that they “be gifted our privacy during this time of mourning.”

“We love you so much Jansen and you will be in our hearts forever,” they said.

Panettiere got his first TV role on the Disney Channel comedy “Even Stevens” and built a body of work that included voice credits on the animated films “Robots” and “Ice Age: The Meltdown,” as well as onscreen parts in “The Martial Arts Kid,” Nickelodeon’s “Blue’s Clues” series and film “The Last Day of Summer,” as well as playing Casper in AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

He and his sister Hayden, 33, also appeared together in the 2004 Disney film “Tiger Cruise” and 2005 movie “Racing Stripes.”


As an artist, Panettiere also showcased his colorful artwork on Instagram and, just weeks before his death, posted a photo of his elder sister happily cutting his curly hair.