Thursday, December 20, 2007

Death by Hanging

Here is some stuff that you are not likely to see most any place else (it came up in recent conversations; some of my conversations take strange turns):

Hanging, and most strangulation, deaths are a result of vascular compression in the neck (not airway compression as is commonly thought). Compressing the blood vessels in the neck lead to either blood pumping into the head but not being allowed to exit (venous compression) or no blood pumping into the head (arterial compression). The end result of either is that brain cells are not fed with oxygen and sugar (the latter is fuel for function). The starved brain cells die. (This also explains why someone doesn’t need to be suspended to die by hanging.)

Arterial compression is the most “efficient” for causing death and most often the case in hanging deaths. Based on published data and observational studies, unconsciousness occurs in 6-15 seconds, at 1-2 minutes heart rhythm problems occur because of the brain cell anoxia, and death in 3-6 minutes (with irreversible brain damage in 4 minutes). [Do remember that there are no absolutes in medicine, so these times do vary individual to individual.]

In homicidal strangulation, the arterial occlusion is not so absolute, so the times are often prolonged. It is not until the victim loses consciousness that the arterial occlusion can approach total.

[Just as an aside (should I say in a different vein), severe arterial bleeding, like the carotid arteries, results in death in more like 10-20 minutes.]

Yes, I do get in strange conversations, but there are those that would like to eavesdrop and pick up on a few of these facts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

interesting, as always