Whitney Houston may have had heart attack before drowning
Although the Los Angeles County coroner listed accidental drowning as the official cause of singer Whitney Houston's death last month, officials said she may have suffered a heart attack before the drowning.
Autopsy and toxicology tests determined that atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine were also factors. Cocaine was found in her system, along with numerous other drugs.
When asked to explain the drowning, Ed Winter, deputy chief of coroner investigations, said, "She may have had a heart attack."
Houston, 48, was found lifeless and submerged in a bathtub at the Beverly Hills Hilton on Feb. 11 by friends and family. She had been taking part in pre-Grammy events and had planned to attend a party for her longtime mentor Clive Davis at the hotel.
In addition to the cocaine, Winter said, marijuana, Xanax and Flexeril and Benadryl were found in her body. Xanax is traditionally used as an anxiety treatment. Flexeril is a muscle relaxant and Benadryl addresses allergies and can be used as a sleep aid.
Winter said the amounts of cocaine and the medications won't be known for a few weeks.
Houston had a long history of drug addiction.
A couple days before she died, Houston drew the attention of reporters and security staff with her erratic behavior, dripping sweat and disheveled clothes. The singer was disruptive at that day's rehearsals for music mogul Clive Davis' annual Grammy industry party and showcase; that party at the Hilton on Saturday night was supposed to include a performance by Houston.
-- Richard Winton
Photo: Whitney Houston at the BET Honors in the Warner Theatre in Washington in 2009. Credit: Evan Agostini/Associated Press