When the autopsy report on Whitney Houston showed she had a heart condition, she became a grim statistic in the number one cause of death among adults.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention ranks cardiovascular disease as the top cause of death in the U.S.
The famous singer's hectic lifestyle, history of cigarette smoking and use of illegal designer drugs all aggravated her heart condition and led to her untimely demise on February 11, 2012 at the age of 48.
Explaining what happened
Dr. John Gordon Harold, President of the American College of Cardiology describes various situations that may explain Houston's probable cause of death.
1. Hot Tub Syndrome
Some medications that cause drowsiness like sedatives, anti-epilepsy, anti-allergy drugs and even preparations to prevent nausea and vomiting may lead to unconsciousness. Once asleep in a tub, the person may slide under the water and cause drowning.
2. Use of illegal recreational drugs
Harmful chemicals in drugs may cause convulsions and irregularities in the heart beat leading to loss of consciousness and, possibly, drowning.
3. Coronary heart disease
Arteries harden and form plaques beginning at the age of 30. This hardening is aggravated by cigarette smoking which Houston was guilty of. She could have suffered a heart attack causing her to drown.
During the autopsy, the Los Angeles County coroner found blocked arteries in Houston's heart. The toxicology examination revealed a mixture of several drugs which might have pushed her to her death.
There were remnants of cocaine, marijuana, a muscle relaxant Flexeril, an anti-allergy Benadryl and anti-anxiety Xanax found in her blood. Her lungs were noted to be filled with water pointing to drowning as the immediate cause of death.
Make sure your meds are compatible
There are many lessons to be learned from this tragic incident.
If she been with someone when she was having a heart attack or a seizure from the multiple drugs and medications she had taken, she could have been resuscitated and may have survived.
All drugs have side effects. If you have been prescribed several medications by different doctors, check if they are compatible and will not cause harm when taken together. There are many helpful apps and sites online that allow you to plot in all the names of your medications and see whether they have any harmful effects when taken together.
Some drugs cannot be taken with alcohol. Taking them together may cause drowsiness, dizziness, risk of overdose, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, fainting, loss of consciousness, difficulty of breathing, liver damage and internal bleeding.
Don’t take these drugs with alcohol
Below is a list of drugs which cannot be taken with alcohol:
Anti-allergy/ cold and flu: loratadine, fexofenadin, diphenhydramine, desloratadine, brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine, cetirizine
Heart meds: isosorbide, nitroglycerin
Anti-anxiety/anti-epilepsy: iorazepam, clonazepam, chlordiazepoxide, paroxetine, diazepam, alprazolam, phenytoin, phenobarbital
Anti-arthritis: celecoxib, naproxen, diclofenac
Clotting meds: warfarin
Cough preparations: dextromethorphan, guaifenesin + codeine
Anti-depressants: clomipramine, citalopram, trazodone, venlafaxine, amitriptyline, escitalopram, fluvoxamine, desipramine, paroxetine, fluoxetine, nefazodone, bupropion, sertraline
Anti-diabetes: metformin, glyburide, tolbutamide
Prostate meds: doxazosin, tamsulosin, terzosin, prazosin
Heartburn or Indigestion meds: nizatidine, metoclopromide, cimetidine, ranitidine
Anti-hypertensives: quinapril, hydrochlorothiazide, doxazosin, losartan, clonidine, terazosin, benzapril, prazosin, enalapril
Anti-cholesterol: lovastatin, rosuvastatin, atorvastatin, niacin, pravastatin, simvastatin
Antibiotics/Antifungals: nitrofurantoin, metronidazole, griseofulvin, ketoconazole, isoniazid, cycloserine, tinidazole
Muscle relaxants: cyclobensaprine, carisoprodo
Motion sickness and anti-nausea: meclizine, hydroxyzine, dimenhydrinate, promethazine
Pain meds: ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, acetaminophen, propoxyphene, meperidine, butalbital, oxycodone, hydrocodone
Anti-insomnia: zolpidem, eszopiclone, estazolam, temazepam, diphenhydramine, doxylamine
As a final note, prohibited drugs are illegal for a reason. They are harmful and will not bring any good to anyone.
Dr. Diana Sarmiento is a mother of three, part-time doctor, and a full-time wife and mother. The topics closest to her heart are women’s health, parenting, and any new information that she can get her hands on. Read more on her personal blog, Filipina M.D.