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Moderate to severe carbon monoxide poisoning can damage cardiac muscle and increase the patient's risk of death in the ensuing years, new research suggests. This study, among the first to explore long-term consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning, paints a different picture than earlier studies that had shown low in-hospital mortality rates.


The new study involved 230 patients who'd received hyperbaric oxygen therapy for carbon monoxide poisoning between 1994 and 2001. Twelve patients died while hospitalized. Researchers tracked the rest until November 2005. Based on electrocardiogram changes or serum cardiac markers, they found that 37% of the patients suffered cardiac damage related to carbon monoxide poisoning.


During the follow-up period, which averaged 7.6 years, 24% of the patients died. The death rate for patients who had cardiac damage was 38%, compared with 15% for those without cardiac damage.


Researchers say their findings suggest that people with carbon monoxide poisoning should undergo screening for cardiac damage. Those with confirmed cardiac damage should also undergo cardiovascular risk assessment.




Myocardial injury and long-term mortality following moderate to severe carbon monoxide poisoning, JAMA, CR Henry, et al., January 25, 2006.