A recent study has revealed that carbon monoxide (CO) can cause a direct damage to the heart muscle, irrespective of the effects of lack of oxygen that reduces the heart's pumping capacity and permanently damages cardiac function.
Dr Selim Suner lead author, director of emergency preparedness and disaster medicine at Rhode Island Hospital said that CO might cause long lasting heart damage.
"These findings suggest that heart damage caused by carbon monoxide may have long-lasting effects even after its been eliminated from the blood, making the diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning even more critical," said Dr Suner.
CO, when inhaled displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives organs such as the heart, brain and other vital organs of life-sustaining oxygen.
The study was conducted using an animal model in which blood and other systemic factors were eliminated in order to determine the direct effects of CO on cardiac function.
The model was divided into three groups a control group; a nitrogen control group designed to induce oxygen deprivation; and a group exposed to a combination of CO and oxygen.
The findings revealed that the pressure generated from left ventricular decreased in both the nitrogren control and CO groups.
However, the group exposed to CO did not recover cardiac function.
The findings are published in the January issue of Academic Emergency Medicine.