How do fatality rates from carbon monoxide (CO) toxicity vary by age?

Updated: Dec 31, 2020
  • Author: Guy N Shochat, MD; Chief Editor: Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD, FACEP  more...
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Age-specific fatality rates increase with age and are highest in those older than 65 years. However, nonfatal exposures are more common in older teens and young adults (aged 15-34 y) than in older adults and are most common in young children (aged 0-4 y). [16, 11]

Individuals with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease tolerate CO intoxication poorly; this is particularly evident in those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who have the additional concern of ventilation-perfusion abnormalities and possible respiratory depressive response to 100% oxygen therapy.

Neonates and the in utero fetus are more vulnerable to CO toxicity because of the natural leftward shift of the dissociation curve of fetal hemoglobin, a lower baseline PaO2, and levels of HbCO at equilibration that are 10-15% higher than maternal levels.

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