Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Case Studies Involving:

Following are some case studies involving CO poisoning. They have been written in layman's terms as much as possible for ease of understanding.

#1 - In patients with coronary artery disease, COHb levels as low as 2-4% increase sensitivity to angina (chest pain) during exercise. Levels of 10-20% could do the same in people with no history of chest pain. Since CO is undetectable by humans, people often initially don't know when they've been exposed to dangerous levels of CO. A patient admitted to a hospital with chest pain and diagnosis of CO poisoning could be easily missed unless the physician knows to be suspicious of it.

- Epidemiologic studies over the past 30 years have hinted at a temporal link between urban pollution / CO exposure and morbidity and mortality. More recently, several studies have found interesting correlations between air CO levels and hospital admissions for congestive heart failure. It is possible that resulting slightly increased COHb levels is pushing patients in incipient failure into frank failure.

#2 - Use of fuel-powered machinery indoors can be dangerous, even with ventilation. For example:

Tractors, trucks, cars (pulls, demolition derbies, etc.)
Chain saws

#3 - Studies have shown that CO poisoning during pregnancy can cause stillbirth, brain damage and birth defects. The fetus is much more sensitive to CO than is the pregnant woman, especially at certain stages of development. This case study associates birth defects with chronic, mild CO exposure during pregnancy.

#4 - A 15 year old girl was sleeping in a room above a closed garage in which an automobile was accidently left running. She consequently incurred acute CO poisoning.

last changed 12/25/99

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