A SMOKER thought to have died from breathing in carbon monoxide at her Stafford home actu- ally died of natural causes, a coroner has ruled.
Brenda McCarthy, known as Jackie to her family and friends, died on December 20 last year after being found unconscious at her flat in Hawksmoor Road.
The 59-year-old, who suffered with emphy- sema and chronic bronchitis and had been hos- pitalised twice in the months before her death, was rushed to Stafford Hospital.
An inquest in Cannock heard last week that tests revealed she had eight per cent carbon monoxide in her blood, a relatively low level. But a calculation made by a medic, based on the fact that levels could have dropped by the time she reached hospital, suggested it could have been as much as 24 per cent.
But Staffordshire South coroner Andrew Haigh recorded a verdict of death by natural causes after hearing evidence.
Dr Kenneth Shorrock, a consultant forensic
pathologist for the West Midlands, said there was no evidence the patient died of carbon monoxide intoxication.
He said she showed none of the usual symp- toms, such as the skin turning pink or effects on the brain. Instead she had blue fingers, which was not associated with carbon monoxide.
A police investigation also showed there were no problems with the gas appliances in her home, apart from a gas grill, which had not been used recently.