Syncope – Fainting and its Relation to Your Heart
The symptom of fainting, also known as syncope, comes in different forms and could be indicative of a larger condition.
What Causes Syncope?
Syncope can be induced by various factors which are benign and temporary. Exhaustion and sudden changes in body position can cause syncope.
In more serious cases, syncope could be an indication of a dangerous heart condition such as heart arrhythmia or a blood clot.
Cases of syncope which involve a problem in the heart or vascular system are important to recognize, and swift emergency medical treatment may be necessary to avoid death and permanent damage.
Vasovagal syncope, also known as neurocardiogenic syncope, is the most common form of this symptom.
Vasovagal syncope occurs when certain triggers cause a sudden drop in blood pressure and heart rate. A sudden drop in blood pressure means your brain receives less oxygen and you lose consciousness briefly.
Emotional triggers for vasovagal syncope could be almost anything. Triggers are often the sight of blood, a sudden feeling of terror or doom, excitement, and anxiety.
During an episode of syncope, the blood vessels in your legs dilate. Combine blood pooling in your legs with a sudden drop in heart rate and the result is a loss of consciousness.
Syncope could also be the side effect of certain medications, like certain nitrates and beta blockers.
Symptoms leading up to a loss of consciousness for vasovagal syncope include:
- Cold Sweat
- A Warm Sensation
- Blurred Vision
- Tunnel Vision
Lying or sitting down may help if you think you’re about to faint, but sometimes there’s simply nothing you can do to avoid it
After an episode of any type of syncope, it would be wise to consult with a doctor to make sure your fainting spell isn’t a sign of a heart problem.
Micturition syncope is the loss of consciousness during or immediately after urination.
The exact cause of micturition syncope still isn’t exactly known and is likely a combination of different factors.
This symptom occurs in older men and tends to happen when they get out of bed at night to urinate. This suggests hypotension (low blood pressure) from sleep, combined with a change from a sitting to a standing position out of bed and opening of blood vessels while urinating is the cause of fainting.
This condition is rare and usually doesn’t cause any health concerns. However, it’s possible for someone to hurt themselves during a fall while experiencing micturition syncope.
Preventative measures can be taken to make the bathroom and bedroom area safer in case of urinary-related fainting spell like removing hard or sharp objects you may fall on and making sure your floors have some sort of padding or carpet installed.
As far as eliminating micturition syncope there’s not much which can be done.
Sorry gentlemen, but you may have to sit while urinating in the middle of the night to avoid a fall.
Cardiac syncope is a loss of consciousness related to a vascular problem.
This symptom is where fainting becomes more dangerous. Certain types of irregular heartbeat, such as tachycardia and bradycardia, and hypotension can induce this form of syncope.
A cardiac syncope could be the result of heart failure, pulmonary embolism or a blood clot somewhere else in the body.
After every fainting spell, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible to ensure it’s not a cardiac syncope.
Evaluations from a doctor could include:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG): this will allow your doctor to monitor your heartbeat to check for any irregularities.
- Tilt Test: this test will record blood pressure and heart rate while you are being tilted on a tilting table.
What Are the Dangers of Syncope?
Because vasovagal syncope is the most common form of losing consciousness, most episodes of fainting are relatively harmless.
The largest threat to most people who faint are injuries they receive during a fall like a scraped elbow, bruised knee and in worst cases a head injury.
Preventing fainting requires listening to your own body. Standing for too long, overheating and dehydration are all common reasons why someone faints.
If you feel lightheaded and are experiencing other symptoms leading to a loss of consciousness, sit or lay down for a few minutes, have some water and something to eat. If your wooziness doesn’t subside within 10 to 20 minutes, it’s time to visit the doctor.
Always follow up with a doctor if you lose consciousness. Distinguishing a cardiac syncope from a vasovagal syncope should be left to a doctor who can evaluate your condition using the right knowledge and equipment.
If you’ve fainted recently and are concerned, you may have an underlying condition, contact us by phone or schedule an appointment online. We’re always taking new patients and can give you an evaluation and more information about what may have caused you to faint.