The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office reported Thursday that singer Whitney Houston’s death at the Beverly Hills Hotel was an accidental drowning.
Cocaine use and heart disease were contributing factors in her death, officials said Thursday.
“She may have had a heart attack” that rendered her unconscious, leading to her drowning, said Ed Winter, deputy chief of coroner investigations.
Cocaine’s negative effects on cardiac health are well-established. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2001, Dr. Richard A. Lange and Dr. L. David Hillis of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas explained how the popular drug can hurt the heart.
By increasing heart rate and blood pressure, they wrote, cocaine amps up demand for oxygen. It also constricts coronary arteries and speeds clotting in arteries leading to the heart. All three can restrict the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart, resulting in tissue death.