Thursday, March 22, 2012

Whitney Houston Cause of Death

I said at the time that it would turn out to be drug related.  From March 22, 2012 USA Today:
The Los Angeles County coroner's office has determined that Whitney Houston's official cause of death is: "drowning and effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use." 
A number of other drugs, both prescription and marijuana, were present, but were not contributory to her death.  Another tragedy.


  1. Any bets the "atherosclerotic heart disease" was a result of drug use, too? 40-year-old women don't generally have heart disease (to the point where it would be contributory to their death) unless they're grossly obese, and Whitney Houston wasn't.

  2. Well, in her defense, there is a medical condition that is somewhat common where a person is slim or normal weight but in terms of blood and endocrine system, he or she is morbidly obese.

  3. Recall the findings of Enos, Holmes, and Beyer in their 1953 study of American soldiers killed in action in Korea. Cardiovascular disease, even in younger people, is more common than one might guess.

    Was drug use itself a direct causal factor in the atherosclerosis? Perhaps, if for no other reason than by contributing to chronic hypertension.

    Was it factor in, say, acute vasoconstriction interacting with diseased arteries to bring the fatal crisis: almost certainly.

    If I recall correctly, an exhibit at Lawrence Hall of Science has an impressive brain section of someone who had a massive cerebrovascular accident after using cocaine.

  4. And once again, prohibition fails.

  5. Cardiology. 2001;95(1):25-30.
    Prevalence of heart disease in asymptomatic chronic cocaine users.
    Roldan CA, Aliabadi D, Crawford MH.

    Cardiology, Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, NM, USA.

    To determine the prevalence of heart disease in outpatient young asymptomatic chronic cocaine users, 35 cocaine users and 32 age-matched controls underwent resting and exercise electrocardiography (ECG) and Doppler echocardiography. Findings consistent with coronary artery disease were detected in 12 (34%) patients and 3 (9%) controls (p = 0.01). Decreased left ventricular systolic function was demonstrated in 5 (14%) patients, but in none of the controls (p = 0.055). Finally, resting and peak exercise abnormal left ventricular filling was detected in 38 and 35% of patients as compared to 19 and 9% of controls, respectively (p = 0.11 and 0.02, respectively). We conclude that coronary artery or myocardial disease is common (38%) in young asymptomatic chronic cocaine users. Therefore, screening ECG and echocardiography may be warranted in these patients.

    Copyright 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel

  6. Prohibition failed in this case in the same way that bank robberies mean that laws against robbery fail. No law is 100% effective, and relatively few laws are 0% effective.

    Laws work at the margins. They may introduce severe side effects, which can outweigh their benefits. In that case, it may be better to put up with the negatives of repealing the law, or look for a way to enjoy the positives by looking for solutions to the side effects. A $100 per pack cigarette tax would certainly produce severe negative side effects because of corruption of police, organized crime activity, and contempt for the law among smokers. But a $4 per pack tax, while it might produce some problems, they would be dramatically less serious, while still producing many of the positive side effects.