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Joni Mitchell Had Brain Aneurysm Says Friend David Crosby: Was It Caused By Smoking?

Joni Mitchell's life-long smoking habit may by a significant factor in the illness that caused her to collapse in March.

Joni Mitchell’s lifelong smoking habit may be a significant factor in the illness that caused her to collapse in March.

Joni Mitchell, the iconic ’60s folk-rock singer, was found unconscious at her home in March suffering from a then-mystery illness. But close friend and fellow musician David Crosby, revealed what felled the pioneering artist.

The 71-year-old Joni, a chronic smoker, was rushed to UCLA medical center after collapsed in her Los Angeles home in the tony Bel Air neighborhood.

She was hospitalized for more than a month and was unable to make medical decisions for herself, her long-time friend Leslie Morris told a court in April. She was seeking to become Mitchell’s conservator.

A doctor said at the time Joni would be unlikely to attend court hearings for at least four to six months.

A statement posted on Mitchell’s web site, said the singer was not in a coma. “Joni is still in the hospital – but she comprehends, she’s alert, and she has her full senses. A full recovery is expected,” the statement read.

Crosby, who is best know for his career with, Crosby, Stills and Nash, told the HuffPost Mitchell suffered a brain aneurysm, which is related to a stroke.

“She is home, she is in care, she is recovering,” he said, adding that she is not able to speak yet.

Joni Mitchell apparently was alone at home “and nobody found her for awhile,” he added.

“She’s going to have to struggle back from it the way you struggle back from a traumatic brain injury. She’s a tough girl and very smart. So, how much she’s going to come back and when, I don’t know and I’m not going to guess. I love her. She’s probably the best of us – probably the greatest living singer-songwriter.’

–David Crosby

Smoking was first linked with brain aneurysms more than 15 years ago in a pioneering study by the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine.

The study found that 72 percent of all aneurysm patients were smokers, and 40 percent had high blood pressure. Of those with ruptured aneurysms, 58 percent had hypertension, and 71 percent smoked.

“The basic message is that smoking is bad. It can cause sudden death by causing aneurysms. It can lead to sudden death, or, if you reach the hospital, only 30 percent will come out without any disability. It’s a pretty devastating disease,” lead researcher Satish Krishnamurthy, MD, told WebMD.

Genetic factors are also thought to play a role in aneurysms, although their exact cause is unknown, according to medical references.