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Whitney Houston verdict raises some questions

Whitney Houston’s death has been attributed to drowning in her hotel bath. The verdict of the LA coroner’s office also indicated that heart disease and cocaine use were factors in her death, although it was not clear what caused the singer to drown.

Houston was found dead in her hotel bathroom in the Beverly Hilton on February 11, the night before the Grammy Awards, and there had been speculation that narcotics might have been involved given Houston’s highly-publicised battles with addictions. The death was ruled accidental.

Houston’s family were relieved that the inquest is over. "We are saddened to learn of the toxicology results, although we are glad to now have closure," The singer’s sister-in-law Patricia Houston, who also acted as her manager, wrote in a press statement.

The toxicology examination showed that cocaine, marijuana, Xanax, the muscle relaxant Flexeril, and allergy medication Benadryl were present in Houston’s system at the time of death. The singer was also suffering from heart disease that caused blockages in the arteries, although it was not known whether Houston had suffered a heart attack. Experts suggest that cocaine and a weak heart could have been the lethal combination.

"It's possible she fell asleep," Atlanta cardiologist Gina Lundberg told USA Today. "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."

Houston had claimed to have cleaned up and ended her reliance on drugs, although in 2011 she did receive outpatient treatment for drug and alcohol problems.

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