Heart-Related Reasons for Syncope (faint)

Syncope, commonly known as fainting, is a widely prevalent problem that is considered to be responsible for 1% to 3% of visits to the emergency room and 1% to 6% of hospital stays. Heart-related fainting most frequently happens when blood pressure is too low (hypotension), and the heart isn’t supplying enough oxygen to the brain.

Syncope can be asymptomatic or a sign of a serious medical problem. Most people don’t require further medical care. However, you need medical attention for your cardiac related Syncope.

Syncope can occur if you have any of the following:

  • A decrease in heart rate
  • A sudden rapid drop in blood pressure
  • Variations in the blood flow throughout your body

Types of Syncope

Syncope can be classified into the following categories:

  1. Reflex-mediated (Vasovagal Syncope)
  2. Cardiac Syncope
  3. Orthostatic or Postural Syncope
  4. Cerebrovascular Syncope
  5. Syncope with unknown causes

What is Cardiac Related Syncope?

Cardiac related Syncope is a transient loss of consciousness, lasting several seconds to many minutes, characterized by a fast onset and spontaneous recovery.

Several heart problems, including bradycardia, tachycardia, or low blood pressure, are the main causes. It may signal a higher risk of sudden cardiac death. Recurrent syncopal occurrences are more likely to occur in patients with underlying heart problems than in patients with other types of Syncope.

Symptoms of Syncope

Some of the common symptoms of Syncope are the following:

  • Blacking out
  • Feeling dizzy or drowsy
  • Headaches
  • Fainting, especially following a meal or an exercise
  • Feeling shaky or weak when standing
  • Falling for no reason
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Visual changes, such as seeing dots or experiencing tunnel vision

Causes of Syncope

The most frequent cause of Syncope is vasovagal Syncope, characterized by an abrupt drop in blood pressure and a slowing of the heart. Cardiac Syncope is often triggered by emotional distress or pain, especially if the person has been standing for a long time or is dehydrated.

However, compared to other causes, Syncope with a cardiac etiology has much greater rates of morbidity and fatality.

Heart-Related Reasons for Syncope

Heart-Related fainting or Syncope can occur if you have a significant heart or blood vessel disease that impairs blood flow to your brain. These conditions may include the following:

  • Abnormal cardiac rhythms (Arrhythmias), such as severe bradycardia or tachycardia
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart valve dysfunction
  • Pericarditis
  • Coronary artery disease, i.e., Aortic stenosis (narrowing)
  • Impeded blood flow in your heart due to your heart’s structure
  • Obstruction in your heart’s blood vessels (myocardial ischemia)
  • Blood clot
  • Congestive heart failure

It’s crucial to see a cardiologist for adequate care if you experience cardiac related Syncope.

Risk Factors of Heart-Related Fainting

Men and people over 60 years of age have an increased risk of experiencing cardiac Syncope. Additionally, those with the following characteristics are at increased risk for cardiac related Syncope:

  • Fainting when under stress
  • Structural heart disease or known ischemic heart disease
  • Brief palpitations or an unexpected loss of consciousness
  • Family history of inheritable diseases or premature sudden cardiac death (50 years of age)
  • A history of congenital heart disease
  • Arrhythmias in the past or diminished ventricular function
  • Abnormal heart examination

Evaluation of Syncope

Any person who experiences Syncope should have a thorough medical history taken, get a complete physical examination, and have their blood pressure and heart rate measured. An initial evaluation should also include a 12-lead resting ECG (electrocardiogram), which can indicate the cause of Syncope.

Based on the initial clinical assessment, additional testing should be done.

Cardiac Tests for Syncope

More detailed cardiac testing is typically required in older patients, those with underlying congenital heart disease, and those with abnormal electrocardiograms (ECG or EKG). This testing may include the following:

The unexpected nature of syncope can make it seem more dangerous than it is. For most people, it’s a temporary condition that doesn’t point to any serious health issues. Seeing a provider after you faint can give you peace of mind knowing that you don’t have a serious condition. Be sure to get treatment for your heart condition if that caused your syncope.