What is the incidence of cyanide toxicity in the US?

Updated: May 30, 2020
  • Author: Inna Leybell, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Miller, MD  more...
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Answer

Cyanide may be a major contributor to the morbidity and mortality observed in the approximately 5000-10,000 deaths from smoke inhalation occurring each year in the United States. Suicidal exposures are rarely reported to poison centers: intentional exposures accounted for 17 of the 185 cyanide poisoning cases reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers in 2018. [20] However, a rapidly fatal suicide from cyanide salts in an adult patient might easily be mistaken for sudden death from myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolus, or ventricular dysrhythmia.

Suicide by cyanide poisoning occurs predominantly in males, as does industrial exposure. Leber optic atrophy has shown a very strong male predominance in European studies.

Deliberate ingestion of cyanide occurs mostly in adults. Smoke inhalation and chronic cyanide poisoning affect all ages.


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