Whitney Houston Died From Drowning Believed Spurred by Heart Disease, Cocaine

Los Angeles County coroner's report released today.

ByABC News
February 13, 2012, 4:19 AM

March 22, 2012— -- Whitney Houston died from accidental drowning, but the drowning may have been spurred by heart disease and cocaine found in her system, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, which released a report on the death today.

"We had approximately a 60 percent occlusion in the arteries -- in the narrowing of the arteries," Los Angeles County Coroner's Chief Craig Harvey told ABC News Radio. "So, that condition complicated by the chronic cocaine use all combined to result in her drowning.

"The final cause of death has been established as drowning due to atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use," Harvey said.

In the official report under the category "How Injury Occurred," it is noted that the singer was "found submerged in bathtub filled with water; cocaine intake."

The report said that 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."

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. It is not known how long the singer had the condition.

No trauma or foul play is suspected. It is anticipated that the final coroner report will be available for release within two weeks.

Houston's family immediately reacted to the news.

"We are saddened to learn of the toxicology results, although we are glad to now have closure,' said Patricia Houston, Whitney's business manager and sister-in-law.

Whitney Houston's official death certificate was filed in Los Angeles County on Feb. 15, but the immediate cause of death was listed as "deferred" and the manner of death was noted to be "pending investigation."


The 48-year-old singer was found "underwater and unconscious" in the bathtub in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Feb. 11.

Prescription drugs were found nearby,and bottles of champagne and beer were in an adjacent room at the hotel, as seen in photos of the scene obtained by TMZ.

Amid the circumstances of her sudden death and Houston's history of drug addiction, many speculated that the singer died after taking a toxic mix of prescription drugs and alcohol. Houston's autopsy was completed shortly after she died, but toxicology tests were ordered because ""you can look at a body and not know [what] the cause of death is,'' according to Ed Winter, Asst. Chief LA County Coroner spokeman. "You might have a suspicion, but the person could have suffered a heart attack or embolism."

Investigators also looked into doctors who may have written multiple sedative prescriptions for Houston as they tried to determine the cause of the pop superstar's death.

Winter told ABC News the office was "conducting an investigation and will try to obtain medical records from her doctors."

In Photos: Whitney Houston Through The Years

Earlier this month Oprah Winfrey interviewed Whitney's manager and sister-in-law, Patricia Houston, who gave the family's first account about what happened in Whitney's hotel room on the day the singer suddenly died.

After running errands on Feb. 11, Pat returned to the hotel and visited a room where Whitney was set to film an infomercial.

A few minutes later Patricia said she went down the hall to visit Whitney's room. "I heard screaming," Pat told Winfrey and recounted that she saw Whitney's hair stylist "fall to her knees, saying oh my God, oh my God." Pat recalled that she walked by a woman who opened her hotel room door to see what was going on and told her to call 911 immediately.