Whitney Houston autopsy suggests 'chronic usage' of cocaine
Singer Whitney Houston's use of cocaine combined with a heart condition contributed to her accidental drowning, coroner officials said.
Officials would not say how much of the drug was in her system. But Craig Harvey, the coroner's operations chief, said the toxicology findings "suggested chronic usage" of the drug.
David Campbell, a retired captain for the coroner's office, said the disease is often linked to blockages of blood flow to the heart.
Use of cocaine and other narcotics would intensify the dangers, he said. Cocaine can constrict blood vessels and reduce blood flow, he said.
The autopsy results were released Thursday after weeks of intense speculation over how the 48-year-old pop star died.
Houston had battled drug addiction for years, and the coroner's office found traces of several drugs — including marijuana, the anti-anxiety medication Xanax, the muscle relaxant Flexeril as well as Benadryl — in her system. But the coroner's office concluded that those drugs did not contribute to her death.
A law enforcement source said that no cocaine was found in Houston's room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel but that bottles of various medications were recovered. The autopsy found that the singer suffered from a pre-existing condition known as atherosclerotic heart disease.
Beverly Hills police said detectives will prepare a final report, due to be released in two weeks, after they review the coroner's findings.
Investigators had served subpoenas on doctors as well as at the pharmacies where Houston obtained the prescriptions they found in her hotel room. But officials said they don't believe any of those medications played a role in her death. Authorities did not say how long those drugs had been in her system.
Houston was found submerged in the bathtub of her hotel room the afternoon of Feb. 11 by an assistant. Beverly Hills Fire Department paramedics performed CPR on the singer for about 20 minutes before pronouncing her dead.
-- Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Whitney Houston strikes a pose during her performance at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles during taping of the "25 Years of #1 Hits: Arista Records' Anniversary Celebration" on April 10, 2000. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press