image by: Misako Rosen
Fainting can be a frightening and dangerous experience, sending as many as four million people to the emergency room each year.
Now, with an aging population that is more vulnerable to such episodes, often on a recurrent basis, hospitals are trying to do a better job of identifying the causes of fainting, known in medical terms as syncope, and determining which cases are serious enough to warrant follow-up and hospitalization.
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Maybe you’ve even experienced it yourself. You start to feel lightheaded, your stomach may hurt, your palms are sweaty, your vision closes in, your ears start to ring …. Then you wake up on the floor, staring up the ceiling, and realize you’ve fainted. What happened?
It's a phobia, but other phobias don't give you that same woozy feeling.
As a doctor, what I noticed was that the Secret Service agents accompanying Clinton made a clear mistake: they did not lay her down. One easy way to increase blood flow back to the brain is to lower the head to or below the level of the heart. But nothing else in the video was particularly striking. This was a case of syncope.
There, I admit it. I'm a fainter.
No, not the corseted Southern belle variety that puts her wrist over her brow, heaves a sigh and then swoons. That's just a myth (I think).
I'm more of the quiet type of fainter. Sounds are reduced to white noise. I get tunnel vision and feel queasy as the sensation of a thousand pinpricks runs across my torso and I begin to sweat.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Melbourne, showed that a single gene that is passed along in families may be linked with fainting. However, researchers did not find evidence to suggest that fainting triggers are genetic.
Have you ever been curious about how serious fainting, swooning, and syncope are or can be? Have you wondered whether, when, and how to work up these conditions? Have you ever considered how to best treat a patient with single or multiple episodes of syncope? If you have, then the following case vignette should provide a useful stimulus for discussion.
There is a range of diseases that affect the autonomic nervous system known as dysautonomia and POTS is one of them. In POTS there is increase in heart rate and light-headedness on standing. In addition there is exercise intolerance and fatigue, often with a multitude of other symptoms. POTS may be so severe that even normal everyday activities usually taken for granted such as bathing or walking may be severely limited.
Most people who faint do not need to go to the emergency room, but for a small minority of people who do faint, the brief loss of consciousness can be a sign that more serious and potentially fatal medical events are on the horizon.
It’s not always necessary to identify the precise cause of syncope, but it is essential to make sure that it is not caused by the heart. So-called cardiac syncope accounts for only about 20 percent of all fainting spells. But because this kind of syncope can indicate heart disease, it’s important to separate patients with cardiac causes from those other reasons for fainting. Research has shown that those who have cardiac syncope have a higher risk of death, presumably from the underlying heart problem.
That's a lie. I don't remember anything about it. I fainted. Before and after the faint, I remember.
When an athlete passes out during the middle of a race, medical protocol clearly calls for a cardiac evaluation to be performed. Passing out is a known symptom of cardiac defects, and cardiac defects are the primary cause of sudden death in athletes.
But when an athlete passes out past the finish line, medical experts are divided on whether a cardiac evaluation is needed.
Syncope is a transient loss of consciousness secondary to inadequate cerebral perfusion with oxygenated blood. It is a common medical problem, accounting for around 5% of acute medical admissions and 3% of emergency department visits. Syncope secondary to cardiac causes carries the worst prognosis, with a one year mortality rate of 20–30%. An understanding of the events preceding syncope is essential if the correct diagnostic strategy is to be implemented.
Vasovagal syncope is basically a misguided effort by the vagus nerve: In trying to make you chill out, it overshoots and instead makes you pass out.
Unexplained fainting episodes may be caused by a dangerous blood clot in the lung more frequently than many doctors suspect, according to an Italian study.
How a distressing movie or play can trigger a body to pass out.
Episodes are common but often don’t warrant costly extended stays.
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 2012 by patients, caregivers, physicians and researchers dedicated to assisting people living with various forms of dysautonomia. For those of you who may be thinking "dysauto-what?" - dysautonomia is an umbrella term used to describe different medical conditions that cause a malfunction of a person's autonomic nervous system.
We aim to produce information which reflects current evidence-based medicine and strive to enhance our reputation as a reliable and authoritative source of PoTS information.
A blog about Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome for tweens, teens and everyone else interested in POTS.
In a word: Yes. The question is, why? Hint: nerve signals are blocked.
It may be caused by emotional stress, pain, pooling of blood in the legs due to sudden changes in body position, overheating, dehydration, heavy sweating or exhaustion. Syncope may occur during violent coughing spells (especially in men) because of rapid changes in blood pressure. It also may result from several heart, neurologic, psychiatric, metabolic and lung disorders. And it may be a side effect of some medicines.
Vasovagal syncope is a common cause of fainting. The vagus nerve is overstimulated and causes the body's blood vessels to dilate and the heart to slow down. This anti-adrenaline effect decreases the ability of the heart to pump blood upward to the brain against gravity. Without blood flow, the brain turns off. In Victorian England, when this happened because young ladies' sensibilities were easily offended, this was called a swoon.
Syncope is a transient loss of consciousness caused by transient global cerebral hypoperfusion characterised by rapid onset, short duration, and spontaneous complete recovery. The term syncope excludes seizures, coma, shock or other states of altered consciousness.
If you think you're going to faint, you may be able to head it off by taking these steps:
•If possible, lie down. This can help prevent a fainting episode as it allows blood to circulate to the brain. Just be sure to stand up again slowly when you feel better — move to a sitting position for several minutes first, then to standing...
The overall aim of the charity is to ensure that anyone presenting with unexplained loss of consciousness receives the correct diagnosis, the appropriate treatment, informed support and sign posting to the appropriate medical professional.