The Doctors: Whitney Houston
Today’s show opened on a somber note, reflecting on the recent death of iconic singing sensation Whitney Houston. Though her funeral was last Saturday, her cause of death is still under investigation. Her death at the age of 48, on the eve of this year’s Grammy Awards, stunned the music community and fans around the world. Houston was discovered in a hotel bathtub, and the results of the autopsy are being held pending a toxicology report.
Many have suggested that drugs and alcohol played a part in her demise. Her three-hour funeral at her childhood church in New Jersey was held last weekend, seven days after her death.
Whitney Houston’s Cause Of Death
“Our job today is not to speculate more and more, but what we do want to do is talk about medically what could have happened,” Dr. Travis said. That sounds like speculation to me, but carry on.
Jim Moret works for Inside Edition, which is the TV equivalent of National Enquirer, right? He filled Dr. Travis in on the latest developments. “We do know there was prescription medication in her room,” he said.
But he added there was not an unusually large amount of medication, all of it was prescribed to Houston, and there is no indication that she was “doctor shopping.”
Whitney Houston’s Final Days
I have to say, I expected a little more innuendo from the Inside Edition guy. Moret said people who saw her around the hotel in her final days saw her “drinking at the hotel bar as early as 10 in the morning. She was acting erratically.” That’s more in line with the type of journalism I’ve come to expect from Inside Edition.
Moret said Houston got into an argument with a woman two days before she died, and consumed lots of Dom Perignon champagne (product placement!?) and tequila shots. “There seem to be two Whitneys…Whitney in the daytime and Whitney at night,” Moret said.
Hold up. Which Whitney was supposedly day drinking at 10AM? “She often took Xanax before she would perform because she was nervous,” he said. “It seems to be likely that there was a mixture of drugs and alcohol.”
Whitney Houston’s Toxicology Report
Dr. Travis reminded everyone that all of this is “alleged.” Dr. Jim Sears said the medicines found in her hotel room were not abnormal. Dr. Lisa Masterson said people are speculating about drugs and alcohol, but she could possibly have died of natural causes.
Moret said typical toxicology reports take eight to 12 weeks, but Whitney Houston’s toxicology report is being expedited and results could come back within six weeks.
Then Moret listed several antidepressants suspected to be found in Houston’s hotel room. Dr. Travis said these medicines are similar, and they can be dangerous if they’re not taken properly. Moret blamed celebrity enablers who allow those in the spotlight to get out of control.
What Happens During An Autopsy
Dr. Travis added that medicines and alcohol can cause long term problems. He then transitioned to discussing how a coroner determines a cause of death. He suggested a variety of possibilities, including “a brain bleed…a blood clot in her lungs…heart attack” and toxicology.
Pathologist Dr. Michael Fishbein said the first step is usually a review of the deceased’s medical history, for information about underlying disease as well as addiction issues. Examiners will also look for signs of foul play. Then the body organs are examined to determine possible causes and medical factors.
Stimulant Use & Cause Of Death
Dr. Travis said Houston had admitted in the past to using stimulants. “Cocaine is one of the causes of an enlarged heart, and someone can die of cocaine abuse and not have any cocaine in their system, if they’ve used cocaine in the past,” Dr. Fishbein explained.
Dr. Fishbein called it premature and unprofessional to speculate about the cause of someone’s death before a medical reason has been determined.
The Doctors: Sudden Death Causes
Dr. Travis explored the medical issues that can cause sudden death, including head bleeding, heart attacks, a Pulmonary Embolism, or massive blood loss.
Dr. Lisa added that there is a phenomenon among drug users who have abstained for a long time and then decide to try drugs once again. They “are at higher risk of expiring or taking too much of it, because their systems aren’t used to it,” she said.
Why Did Whitney Houston Die?
Though everyone wants immediate answers, there are systematic processes that take time to get the most accurate answers.
“This is such a huge tragedy, Whitney losing her life before her time,” Dr Travis said. “But let’s keep Whitney and Whitney’s family in our thoughts and prayers.”