How Does Cyanide Kill, Why Is Cyanide So Poisonous, and How Does Cyanide Work To Asphyxiate Cells?

Cyanide kills by asphyxiating the cells of the body.

Cyanide competes with oxygen in the body’s cells.

The enzyme responsible for using oxygen has more affinity for cyanide than it does for oxygen, so the presence of cyanide starves a cell for oxygen.

Cells’ respiratory pathways use the oxygen in a complex process to break down glucose to produce energy for vital cell maintenance.

The last step adds oxygen to hydrogen to make water.

If the last step does not occur, high-energy molecules of a substance called ATP, adenosine triphosphate, are not made.

Cells use the energy from ATP to maintain their semipermeable membranes, which control their chemical balance.

Without maintenance, cell membranes lose their integrity and the cell eventually dies.

If enough cells in the body die, toxic symptoms or death will result. asphyxiate

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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