In the medical world, syncope is called fainting or anesthesia. This complication may occur due to reduced blood flow to the brain, which leads to loss of consciousness and muscle control. When a person falls, blood flow to the brain increases, and the person regains consciousness. This is more common than you think. Anyone at any age can have syncope. To prevent syncope and prepare before it happens, we suggest you read this article and get acquainted with this complication.
What is Syncope?
Syncope is a medical term for fainting or anesthesia due to reduced blood flow to the brain. This complication may occur in the following conditions:
A sudden drop in blood pressure;
Decreased heart rate;
Changes in the amount of blood in different areas of the body.
If you lose consciousness, you will probably regain consciousness very quickly, but you may feel confused for a while.
Syncope is relatively common and affects 3% of men and 3.5% of women at least once in their lifetime. The risk of developing the disease increases with age. For example, 6% of people over the age of 75 become infected. Of course, syncope can occur at any age and in healthy or sick people.
Types of syncope
There are different types of this complication that are caused by its underlying factors.
Vasovagal syncope is the most common type of this complication and occurs when your body responds to certain stimuli. For example, some people experience syncope, also called neurocardiogenic syncope, when they see blood or severe emotional disturbances.
In vasovagal syncope, the stimuli cause your blood pressure and heart rate to drop suddenly. This reduces blood flow to the brain, and you temporarily lose consciousness. Although this type of syncope is safe and does not require treatment, you may be injured during syncope.
The autonomic nervous system is disrupted when this condition occurs and can slow the heart rate and cause blood vessels in the legs to dilate. In this case, the blood goes to your legs, and you lose weight by reducing blood flow to the brain. Some of the stimuli of vasovagal syncope are:
- High-temperature exposure;
- Seeing blood.
- Blood donation for testing or donation;
- Fear of bodily harm;
- Putting pressure on the body.
Situational syncope is a type of vasovagal syncope. This only happens in certain situations that affect the nervous system, for example:
- Severe emotional stress;
- the fear;
- the pain;
- Alcohol or drug use;
- Breathing very fast;
- Forced cough and neck rotation;
Syncope caused by body condition
This type of syncope occurs when blood pressure suddenly drops due to a change in posture, such as lying down while standing. Some medications and dehydration can also cause this complication. Patients with this complication usually drop systolic blood pressure of up to 20 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure of at least 10 mm Hg in a standing position.
Cardiac syncope occurs as a result of cardiovascular disease and affects blood flow to the brain. This condition can be caused by an abnormal heartbeat or abnormal blood flow, some of which can include:
- Defects in the structure of the heart;
- Heart valve disease;
- Aortic stenosis;
- heart attack.
This complication is caused by neurological diseases such as seizures, stroke, or transient ischemic attack. Rare conditions such as migraines and hydrocephalus can also cause brain syncope, even if the person’s blood pressure is normal.
It is essential to know that the cause of syncope is unknown in one-third of patients. Also, an increased risk of syncope can be a side effect of some medications.
Symptoms of syncope
Common symptoms of syncope include:
- Feeling weird;
- Fall for no reason;
- Feeling tired or lazy;
- Fainting, especially after eating or exercising;
- Feeling of instability or weakness when standing;
- Change in vision, like seeing a point.
Often, patients can already feel syncope. Syncope warning signs include:
- Speech disorder;
- Weak pulse;
- Change in body temperature;
- Cold sweat;
- Narrow or dilated pupils;
- Feeling distant sounds;
- Feeling the rotation of the room;
- Body weakness;
You can prevent these symptoms by sitting or lying down and placing your feet above the syncope if you notice these symptoms.
What should you do when your syncope or faint?
When you feel the symptoms of this complication, stop working and sit or lie down. Try to keep your body level with the ground and your feet above your head. This returns blood to the brain, which helps prevent syncope. Even if you faint, sitting or lie down, you will not get injuries from falling, such as hitting your head.
Contact your doctor if this feeling does not go away or if you feel faint many times. If you need to see a doctor, ask someone else to drive. Driving is hazardous when you have syncope symptoms.
Helping someone with syncope
If you are worried that someone around you will faint, help them sit or lie down. You can also loosen clothing that interferes with breathing, such as a scarf or tie.
Call the emergency room if someone has syncope in your presence and does not regain consciousness after 2 minutes. While waiting for medical help, turn the person to the side and make sure they are breathing. Please do not leave him alone and take care of him until the emergency arrives.
When should you see a doctor?
Fainting is not usually a sign of a severe complication, but it is an excellent idea to let your doctor know about your syncope. After this complication occurs, you can call your doctor and see him if necessary. In this case, you need to see a doctor:
- You fainted more than once;
- Anesthesia lasted more than 2 minutes;
- You are likely to be pregnant;
- You lose control of your bladder or intestines when you faint;
- You have an irregular or powerful heartbeat;
- You have chest pain;
- Have a history of heart disease, high or low blood pressure, or diabetes.
How is syncope diagnosed?
If you have syncope, your doctor will refer you to a syncope specialist to find out the cause. Assessment of the disease begins with a review of your medical history and physical examination. Your doctor will ask you detailed questions about the symptoms and experience of syncope, including symptoms before and during fainting.
You may need to do one or more tests to determine the cause of syncope. These tests look like this:
- heart health;
- Blood volume;
- Blood flow in different situations.
Tests that may be prescribed to diagnose syncope
- Blood test: to check for metabolic changes and anemia;
- Electrocardiogram (EKG): To study the neural activity of the heart;
- Exercise test: to prevent the neural activity of the heart with an electrocardiogram during training;
- Portable heart monitor: This monitor is placed on the body and collects information about the heartbeat and rhythm;
- Echocardiogram: View the image of the heart structure with high-frequency sound waves;
- Leaning bed: measuring blood pressure and heart rate while lying on different slopes;
- Blood volume test: check the amount of blood according to gender, height, and weight;
- Involuntary reactions test: Measuring reactions such as blood pressure, blood flow, heart rate, skin temperature, and sweating to various stimuli. In this way, your doctor will make sure that your autonomic nervous system is working correctly.
By performing these tests, the doctor can determine the underlying cause of the syncope. Other tests may be needed, as explained by your doctor.
Treatment for syncope will be based on the disease, which will be determined after the doctor evaluates and tests. The goal of treatment is to prevent syncope. These treatments include:
- Taking medication or changing medications, you are currently taking;
- Wearing unique clothing, such as tight socks to improve blood circulation;
- Change your diets, such as eating small, frequent meals, eating more salt, drinking more fluids, increasing your dietary potassium, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol;
- Raising the top of the bed and your head while sleeping, which can be done using extra pillows or expanding the base of the bed;
- Avoid stimuli or conditions that may cause syncope;
- Treatment of underlying heart disease.
With proper diagnosis and treatment, syncope can be controlled. If you have ever had this complication, you are 30% more likely to get it again. The risk of re-syncope and its impact on you depends on several factors, including underlying cause, age, gender, and other illnesses.
Syncope prevention methods
If fainting is due to a specific stimulus, you should avoid it. Everyday inspirations of syncope include:
- The sudden change of posture, such as standing up quickly;
- Standing for a long time;
- Severe pain or fear;
- Water shortage;
- Severe fatigue.
If you are worried about blood clotting in your legs, contract your legs and exercise. You can also wear tight socks. After syncope, drink plenty of fluids and avoid stressful situations.
Syncope is not usually a serious complication, but it is essential to know why. Fainting can signify that you need to reduce your stress or pay more attention to your water and food intake. The most important thing is to do the following when you feel the symptoms before fainting:
- Keep calm and have controlled breathing;
- Sit and place your head between your legs or lie down and place your feet above your head;
- Tell your doctor if you lose consciousness.
Depending on when you feel faint, you can identify and avoid your syncope stimuli. With those mentioned above and consulting your doctor, you can quickly deal with syncope and have a healthier life.