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Blog - Blog #1

Blog post # 1: "What You Need to Know About Syncope or Fainting" 


Date: 7th January 2021
Reading time: 3-4 mins.                                                                             



What is Syncope?

Syncope, also known as 'fainting' or 'passing out' , is a temporary loss of consciousness. It is caused by a temporary drop in blood flow to the brain, typically arising from low blood pressure [1].

Syncope is more common than you might think! About 30-40% of all people will faint at least once in their life, and syncope is the reason for 1-3% of all visits to emergency departments and hospital admissions [2]. It can happen at any age, including childhood, though fainting happens more frequently in older people and females. Syncopal episodes usually last only a few seconds. It may be accompanied by temporary feelings of confusion when you regain consciousness [3].


Why Do People Faint?

People might faint for several reasons. The three most common categories of causes are:

  • Reflex syncope, also known as neuro-cardiogenic or vasovagal syncope.
  • Heart and blood vessel-related diseases.
  • Orthostatic hypotension : a drop in blood pressure upon standing [4].


What are the Most Common Warning Signs and Symptoms of Syncope?

Nausea, slurred speech, weak pulse, changes in body temperature, sudden sweat, pale skin, numbness, dizziness, and shakiness are common symptoms and warning signs of syncope [3].


Figure 1. Syncope warning signs and symptoms



How does Continuous Blood Pressure Monitoring Facilitate the Syncope Diagnosis?

There are different methods that facilitate cardiologists and neurologists in the diagnosis of syncope in the autonomic testing lab. As syncope often occurs very quickly, patients have sudden changes in their hemodynamics, including blood pressure and heart rate deviations [5]. To study the exact moment an event (fainting or passing out) occurs, beat-to-beat continuous blood pressure monitoring can be helpful. Autonomic functioning is commonly tested using reproducible standardized cardiovascular reflex tests, like the so-called Ewing's battery of autonomic function tests [6]. This examination requires continuous blood pressure and ECG monitoring to study the cause of syncope.  


Therefore, continuous non-invasive blood pressure monitoring can be an effective method to support the diagnosis of syncope!


The Finapres ®  NOVA is a cutting edge hemodynamic monitoring system that supports various important autonomic tests such as the tilt table test and active stand test. The Finapres software packages

 support the physician in finding the cause of syncope!


Are you interested in learning more about syncope?

Watch this webinar “Cardiovascular Autonomic Testing Revisited” with an educational presentation from cardiologist Dr. A. Fedorowski from Lund University (Sweden)!  



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[1] JR Balentine (2020, February 12th). Fainting. emedicinehealth. https://www.emedicinehealth.com/fainting/article_em.htm

[2] Kenny RA et al. "Epidemiology of syncope / collapse in younger and older Western patient populations." Progress in cardiovascular diseases 55.4 (2013): 357-363.

[3] C. Wheilan (2017). What to Expect During and After a Syncopal Episode. https://www.healthline.com/health/syncopal-episode

[4] da Silva, Rose MFL. "Syncope: epidemiology, etiology, and prognosis." Frontiers in physiology 5 (2014): 471.

[5] Brignole, Michele, et al. "2018 ESC Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of syncope." European heart journal 39.21 (2018): 1883-1948.

[6] Ewing, David J., et al. "The value of cardiovascular autonomic function tests: 10 years experience in diabetes." Diabetes Care 8.5 (1985): 491-498.