Whitney Houston drowned in the hotel room bathtub on February 11, having ingested cocaine recently enough to have it be a contributing factor in her death, said Los Angeles coroner yesterday.
But how exactly did Whitney Houston, who was only 48, die in her bathtub at the Beverly Hilton?
Did she overdose? Hit her head? Simply fall asleep? Did years of cocaine use cause the heart disease that was also detected during autopsy?
Los Angeles County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter, who determined cause of death to be accidental drowning combined with cocaine use and atherosclerotic heart disease, told E! News that his team actually has not been able to pinpoint exactly how Whitney Houston died as far as sequence of events – but there are some likely possibilities.
“It means she could have passed out and drowned,” Ed Winter said.
“Also, continued use of drugs resulted in heart disease, and that could have led to a heart attack.
“At this time, I don’t know how bad her heart was. That will be in the final report. We know she drowned, she had heart disease, and the cocaine was considered a contributing cause to her death.”
They will be reexamining Whitney Houston’s heart for other indicators of deterioration in the coming days.
As for the traces of pills found in Whitney Houston’s body, chief coroner investigator Craig Harvey told reporters during a press conference that it was “clear Houston was taking Xanax, but the levels were such they were a therapeutic level…normal for someone following the rules of a prescribed medication.”
“The Benadryl may have created a combined effect, but the toxicology said all levels were therapeutic or sub-therapeutic and not contributory to her death,” Craig Harvey said.
Whitney Houston drowned in the hotel room bathtub on February 11, having ingested cocaine recently
They found a “moderate” amount of cocaine – an “acute dose, not too much before she collapsed,” he said, but noted that there was evidence of “chronic usage.”
“Drug use creates problems,” Craig Harvey explained.
“If you have one condition and you’re using cocaine, you’ll exacerbate it. It causes the heart to beat faster, the arteries to constrict, which can create a problem and set you up for a cardiac event.”
“It exacerbates heat disease,” he said.
“Probably in the long run, [all of the substances] didn’t help.”
The coroner’s office said earlier today that the final report should be available for release within two weeks.
Meanwhile, at least one medical expert doesn’t buy the notion that the marijuana, Xanax and other sedatives found in her system were not considered contributing factors in Whitney Houston’s death.
“I don’t know how you can say that a bunch of sedating drugs, even in small amounts, couldn’t contribute to somebody either passing out or becoming sedated to the point where you wouldn’t necessarily struggle to recover the way most people would,” Dr. David Baron, chief of staff at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Ortopaedic Hospital, told E! News.
“If we were falling asleep and slipped under the water, our emergency systems in our brain would wake us up,” Dr. David Baron said.
“When people are sedated, the brain doesn’t have the normal alarm systems working properly to make you struggle and fight for life. So I really don’t get why [the coroner’s office] said they were not contributing causes; I don’t know how they can know that unless they were in such minute amounts.”
Which is a possibility – the official report hasn’t been released yet.
As for the cocaine, Dr. David Baron said, if she ingested a “large amount…she could have easily had a cardiac event like a heart attack and an irregular heartbeat. There is no way after someone dies to know if they had an arrhythmia, they are always the mystery of sudden death where you weren’t there to witness it.”
“We are probably never going to know the exact sequence of events that took place,” Dr. David Baron concluded.
“But the question about whether the drug use caused her to drown or not I think is unquestionable. It either compromised her heart, made it weak, caused an arrhythmia and resulted in blood vessels constricting.”
Whitney Houston was found underwater and unconscious in the bathtub of her Beverly Hilton hotel room on Saturday, according to Beverly Hills police.
Officials said they would not speculate on the cause of her death until toxicology tests are finished.
“Ms. Houston was pulled from the tub by members of her staff and hotel security was promptly notified,” said Beverly Hills police spokesman Lt. Mark Rosen.
A Los Angeles coroner said there were no signs of foul play.
It could take up to eight weeks before investigators know exactly why Whitney Houston died.
Whitney Houston was found underwater and unconscious in the bathtub of her Beverly Hilton hotel room on Saturday, according to Beverly Hills police
The Los Angeles coroner’s office said Whitney Houston’s body was released to her family late on Monday morning.
Whitney Houston’s body will be taken to New Jersey, where she lived, for a funeral to be held at the end of the week.
Born in Newark, Whitney Houston began her singing career as a child at the city’s New Hope Baptist Church. Her cousin, singer Dionne Warwick, also sang in its choir.
On Monday, mourners left tributes, including flowers, balloons and candles, alongside the church’s fence.
Whitney Houston was one of the world’s best-selling artists from the mid-1980’s to the late 1990’s, selling 170 million records worldwide.
But her later career was overshadowed by drug use and a turbulent marriage to singer Bobby Brown.
Whitney Houston, 48, was found in her hotel room just hours before she was supposed to appear at a gala before the Grammy awards show.
At the awards ceremony, Whitney Houston was remembered by the music world.
Host LL Cool J opened the event with a prayer for the legendary singer, who won six Grammys during her career.
The audience then gave a standing ovation after watching a clip of her hit I Will Always Love You.
Dressed in black and with a simple piano accompaniment, singer Jennifer Hudson later gave a rendition of the same song, ending with the line: “Whitney, we will always love you.”
Sales of Whitney Houston’s albums have soared on both sides of the Atlantic following her death in Los Angeles.
Whitney – The Greatest Hits is at two on the US iTunes chart, while Whitney Houston – The Ultimate Collection is second in the UK iTunes chart.
There were no signs of foul play surrounding the death of legendary singer and actress Whitney Houston, according to a Los Angeles coroner.
After a post mortem examination, the coroner said there were no visible signs of trauma on Whitney Houston’s body and that foul play was “not suspected at this time”.
The coroner added officials were not ruling out any causes of death until they had the results of toxicology tests.
Whitney Houston was found dead in the bath in her Beverly Hilton hotel room in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon.
The coroner said he would not release any more details on the post mortem performed on Sunday at the request of police detectives investigating Whitney Houston’s death.
There were no signs of foul play surrounding the death of legendary singer and actress Whitney Houston, according to a Los Angeles coroner
Meanwhile, the music world has been remembering Whitney Houston’s life and career at the Grammy Awards.
Host LL Cool J opened the event with a prayer for Whitney Houston, who won six Grammys during her career.
“There is no way around this. We’ve had a death in our family,” he said.
“The only thing that feels right is to begin with a prayer for a woman who we loved – for our fallen sister, Whitney Houston.”
The audience then gave a standing ovation after watching a clip of Whitney Houston’s hit I Will Always Love You.
Dressed in black and with a simple piano accompaniment, singer Jennifer Hudson later gave a moving rendition of the same song, ending with the line: “Whitney, we will always love you.”
Others paying tribute during the ceremony included singer Bruno Mars, who told the crowd: “Tonight we’re celebrating the beautiful Miss Whitney Houston.”
“To Whitney up in heaven, we all love you,” echoed Stevie Wonder.
Melanie Fiona, who won best traditional R&B vocal performance and best R&B song, said: “Whitney Houston, I would not be standing up here if it were not for you.”
Reactions to Whitney Houston’s death dominated the ceremony of the Grammy Awards, the most high-profile event in the US music calendar.
Before the show, Jimmy Jam, a friend and producer of Houston’s, said it was “a bitter-sweet occasion”.
“Anytime someone passes away, the thing you do is you gather your family together [and] tell stories,” he said.
“A little bit of mourning, little bit of celebrating – this is our family tonight and we’re going to do it the best that we can do it.”
Earlier on Sunday, the Reverend Al Sharpton paid tribute to Whitney Houston while preaching at the Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles.
“Yes, she had an outstanding range,” he said.
“Yes, she could hit notes no one else could reach.
“But what made her different was she was born and bred in the bosom of the black church.”
Meanwhile, Whitney Houston’s 18-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown has been released from hospital after being treated for stress and anxiety following her mother’s death.
Whitney Houston holds the record for having the most consecutive chart-topping singles in the US, reaching number one seven times between 1985 and 1988.
But her later career was overshadowed by substance abuse and her turbulent marriage to singer Bobby Brown.
In recent years drug use had taken its toll on Whitney Houston and her voice – once acknowledged as one of the finest in pop music – was badly damaged.