Whitney Houston‘s death was caused by an accidental drowning in addition to heart disease and chronic cocaine use, according to Craig Harvey, Los Angeles County, California Coroner’s Chief of Operation.
“We are saddened to learn of the toxicology results, although we are glad to now have closure,” said Patricia Houston, Whitney’s closest confidant, manager, and sister-in-law.
The “Greatest Love Of All” singer was found unresponsive in the bathtub of her Beverly Hilton Hotel suite on February 11.
The preliminary report Thursday found heart disease had caused blockages in the 48-year-old’s arteries, common in drug users, however the determination could not be made if she indeed had a heart attack.
Atherosclerotic heart disease is a build-up of plaque that narrows the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart, according to the National Institutes of Health. While the results show approximately 60% narrowing in the arteries, there is no way to know how long Whitney had the disease.
“It’s possible she fell asleep,” says cardiologist Gina Lundberg, medical director of the Heart Center for Women at St. Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta. “Based on the fact that the coroner lists drowning first would suggest she was alive when she went under the water, so she didn’t have a heart attack first.”
Though speculation of a heart attack is circulating after the coroner’s report has been released, Harvey is clear in his findings.
“The final cause of death has been established as drowning due to atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use,” Harvey said.
The official report notes in the category “How Injury Occurred,” as the Grammy-awarded singer was “found submerged in bathtub filled with water; cocaine intake.”
The report also stated along with cocaine, metabolites were identified in Houston’s system and were contributory to her death. Marijuana, Xanax, flexeril (muscle relaxant) and diphenhydramine (benadryl) were also found but were not determined to have contributed to her death.
“Other drugs were identified in toxicology,” Harvey said. “However, their levels were at either a therapeutic or sub-therapeutic level; therefore, they are not believed to be contributory to the death.”
No trauma or foul play is suspected. The final coroner report is expected to be expected for release within two weeks.