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Chapter: Forensic Medicine: Thermal, electrical, atmospheric pressure and radiation associated deaths

Diseases due to atmospheric pressure

Although lengthy exposure to low atmospheric pressure (ie at high altitudes in the Andes mountains) can cause cardio-respiratory pathological abnor-malities and premature death, it is sudden changes in pressure that are more dangerous and can lead to unnatural death.

Diseases due to atmospheric pressure

Although lengthy exposure to low atmospheric pressure (ie at high altitudes in the Andes mountains) can cause cardio-respiratory pathological abnor-malities and premature death, it is sudden changes in pressure that are more dangerous and can lead to unnatural death. This is also called barotrauma.

When the atmospheric pressure drops, the volume of a given amount of air increases. If a diver inhales any air while under water, be it ever so little, and he does not exhale it again before he reaches the surface, the air will expand in the lungs resulting in rupture of the lungs, especially the smaller air sacs or alveoli. This can cause an air or gas embolism owing to barotrauma.

Exposure of the body to shock waves during an explosion may result in similar types of trauma.

 

 

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