Frequently asked questions about Loss of Consciousness

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Is a fainting spell and a syncope the same?

There is no consensus between the popular use and the medical use of the terms, fainting spell, nausea, blackout. Fainting spell and blackout are generally used as synonyms of the most common syncope: vasovagal syncope. 

After a vasovagal syncope, they took me to the emergency department, they examined me, they performed an electrocardiogram on me, and all this was normal. Do I have to go to a cardiologist?

The vasovagal reflex is the main cause of syncope and it often occurs in healthy people. The percentage of syncope of a cardiac cause increases from 40 years onwards, which should not be forgotten. If you have never had a cardiovascular evaluation and are already over this age, it is a good time, as a prevention measure, to go to a cardiologist, particularly those who take part in sports. 

When should we be concerned about a syncope or blackout?

The loss of consciousness is a worry in patients of advanced age, in patients with heart diseases, with chest pain accompanied by repetitive syncope and shortness of breath. Even so, we should take into account that blackouts in young people when they make efforts or while they are sleeping, may be an indication that there is a cardiac cause. The intense headache is also an alert sign. 

Can a blackout with a sensation of spinning of the head or objects be a result of a syncope?

In this case, we think more in an episode of vertigo, which is a very different illness and due to another cause. In any case, it is never cardiac or the same as a neurological disease.

Substantiated information by:
Elisenda Gómez-AngelatsUrgency Doctor — Emergency Department

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

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