Hayden Panettiere's brother Jansen died of enlarged heart, family announces

The actor died unexpectedly aged 28

Hayden and Jansen Panettiere pictured at a film screening in January 2019. AFP
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Jansen Panettiere's family has revealed that an enlarged heart caused his sudden death, aged 28.

The actor brother of actress Hayden Panettiere, he was known for his roles in Everybody Hates Chris and The Walking Dead.

"Though it offers little solace, the medical examiner reported Jansen's sudden passing was due to cardiomegaly, coupled with aortic valve complications," his mother, Lesley Vogel, and father, Skip Panettiere, told ABC News.

Cardiomegaly is better known as an enlarged heart, it is not a disease but an "indicator of a condition that puts a strain on your heart," according to the Cleveland Clinic in the US..

"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 said on Tuesday.

"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. We sincerely appreciate the outpouring of love and support towards our family as we navigate this unthinkable loss, and ask that we be gifted our privacy during this time of mourning. We love you so much Jansen and you will be in our hearts forever."

Jansen was found dead in New York on February 19.

He was five years younger than Hayden and followed his sister into acting from a young age. He made his television debut in 2002 in the Disney Channel series Even Stevens and had a small role in the sitcom Hope & Faith, starring actress and television host Kelly Ripa.

He appeared in shows such as Blue’s Clues and Major Crimes, as well as 2007 film The Last Day of Summer, the 2008 faith-based film The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry and 2009's The Perfect Game.

In addition to acting, Jansen also did a significant amount of voice-over work, including for characters in Nickelodeon’s Holly Hobbie & Friends, as well as animated feature films such as 2005's Robots and 2006's Ice Age: The Meltdown.

He also worked with his sister, who is mostly known for her roles in Heroes and Nashville. The siblings starred in the 2004 Disney Channel movie Tiger Cruise and later in the 2014 film The Forger.

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Updated: February 28, 2023, 7:01 AM