Vasovagal Syncope - Medical Malpractice Lawyers

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Vasovagal Syncope - Medical Malpractice

Vasovagal syncope is also called reflex syncope and is the medical term for blacking out because of an acute lack of blood to the brain. Many people get vasovagal sympathy and half of all individuals will have it some time in their lives. It is also called the "common faint" and is brought on by a number of things, including an emotional shock, the sight of blood or other traumatic event that causes the heart rate and blood pressure to drop.

Some people will have a warning sign that they are about to have an episode of vasovagal syncope, while other people will have no symptoms. Most people get better as soon as they collapse to the ground and come to because their blood pressure gets up to the brain and they wake up. Some people have an accidental episode of incontinence and others will have seizure like activity during the time they are unconscious. In some cases, it takes several minutes for a person to come around to full consciousness and this can be quite scary for those who watch the event.

A complex vasovagal syncope event occurs with seizure activity and the whole thing looks like a fit or seizure. While it is a true seizure, it is not due to epilepsy but to a lack of blood supply to the brain and does not mean the person is prone to seizures. Epilepsy only involves about one percent of people and at least half of all people have a vasovagal episode.

One of the signs of an impending vasovagal episode is that the person turns pale, feels sweaty, has nausea and has the feeling that sounds are coming from far away. The world goes dark and the patient may have tunnel vision and the person collapses or falls to the ground.

Vasovagal syncope is a brain reflex. It is related to the autonomic nervous system and is therefore called an autonomic reflex. The heart rate may stop for a few seconds or at least can slow down to below sixty beats per minute. The blood pressure drops sharply and the person develops hypotension. In some people this reflex is more exaggerated than in others and a person can have multiple episodes of vasovagal syncope in their lifetime, while others have no episodes of the condition. In reality, the vasovagal syncope episode is a nervous reaction that shuts down the entire body's blood circulation. Dizziness and fainting are the result.

You can get vasovagal syncope commonly by the sight of blood but if you have to stand for long periods of time, the reflex can be triggered. Anyone who is anxious, emotional or stressed out can have these symptoms. If you have not eaten or had enough to drink, you can have an increased likelihood of having vasovagal syncope. Those who do not have enough salt in their diet can get this syndrome as well.

The main symptoms can vary from person to person and no one faints exactly the same. The most likely symptoms are light headed feelings, nausea and dizziness. You will feel hot or sweaty and have clammy hands. Visual and hearing disturbances are not uncommon. The person looks pale and sweaty to others observing them. A complete blackout might follow these symptoms but some people do not have a blackout occur to them at all. Fainting can run in families so if you have a family member who faints, you are more likely than others to also have vasovagal syncope problems.

The treatment for vasovagal syncope is to loosen the clothing on the affected person and, if possible, lift their legs above the level of their height. If you have a cool rag, apply it to their forehead and keep them safe until they wake up. Be aware of the fact that they may vomit upon awakening.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here