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Syncope (dizziness and blackouts)

What is syncope (dizziness and blackouts)?

Syncope or blackouts (sometimes referred to as fainting) is loss of consciousness which is often transient and usually related to a temporary reduction in the blood supply to the brain. There may or may not be any warning signs.


What causes syncope (dizziness and blackouts)?

Syncope has many causes, only some of which originate from the heart and blood vessels. Vasovagal syncope (common faint) or situational syncope, for example due to coughing, sneezing or when passing urine are common causes. Others include postural hypotension (low blood pressure) or due to an abnormal heart rhythm either due to a very slow heart beat or a very fast one. Occasionally, patients may have some restriction of one of the heart valves, or impairment of heart function. For this reason, many patients with even a single episode of syncope and all patients with recurrent episodes of syncope, without a clear cause, should seek an assessment with a Cardiologist.

How is syncope assessed and what treatment will I need if I suffer from dizziness and blackouts?

The most important part of your assessment is a very careful history and examination and your Cardiologist will want to discuss your symptoms with you in quite some detail. Following this a number of tests may be required and these include an ECG, an echocardiogram, ambulatory ECG monitoring, or an exercise stress test. In many patients, further investigations will be required to delineate the underlying cause. Simple reassurance and avoidance of triggers may be the only treatment required in many patients. Occasionally, further treatments may be required to deal with the underlying cause. In selected patients who have heart disease, this may require the implantation of a pacemaker or implantable cardiac defibrillator.

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We believe the best cardiac care can only be achieved by the best cardiologists in their fields, working together, for you and your heart. Our consultants are able to offer appointments throughout the week and at weekends.

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68 Harley Street, London W1G 7HE