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Vasovagal syncope


Disease: Vasovagal syncope Vasovagal syncope
Category: Neurological diseases

Disease Definition:

The most common cause of fainting is vasovagal syncope. When someone’s body reacts to such triggers as extreme emotional distress and the sight of blood in an exaggerated way, this condition occurs. A sudden drop in the heart rate and blood pressure will be caused by the trigger, which will reduce blood flow to the brain and cause the person to briefly lose consciousness. To rule out more-serious causes of fainting such as heart disorders, the patient will have to do some tests. However, vasovagal syncope usually doesn’t require treatment because it is harmless.

Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


A person may go through some of the following signs and symptoms before fainting from vasovagal syncope:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Pale appearance to the skin
  • Feeling of warmth
  • A cold, clammy sweat
  • Nausea


A person should consult a doctor after a fainting spell, especially if it is the first time because fainting can be a sign of heart or brain disorders or some other serious conditions.


When the part of the nervous system that regulates heart rate and blood pressure malfunctions in response to a trigger, as it is the case in the sight of blood, vasovagal syncope occurs. The blood vessels in the legs widen and the heart rate slows. This permits blood to pool in the legs, lowering the blood pressure. A person faints when the drop in blood pressure and slowed heart rate quickly cause diminished blood flow to the brain. Common triggers for vasovagal syncope include:

  • Having blood drawn
  • Exertion, such as straining on the toilet
  • Heat exposure
  • Fear of bodily injury
  • Standing for long periods of time
  • The sight of blood





Treatment is not needed in most cases of vasovagal syncope. The doctor might help the person identify the fainting triggers and find ways to avoiding them. However, the doctor may suggest following one or more remedies in case the person experiences vasovagal syncope often enough to interfere with their quality of life. Those remedies may include:



Blood pressure drugs: 

Because these medications block some of the signals that can trigger fainting, these medications are commonly used to prevent vasovagal syncope; however, beta blockers such as metoprolol, are originally designed to treat high blood pressure.



Sertraline, paroxetine and fluoxetine are some examples of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that have been successful in blocking vasovagal syncope.


Blood vessel constrictors:

In some cases, vasovagal syncope could be prevented with the use of drugs that treat asthma or low blood pressure.



To reduce the pooling of blood in the legs, the doctor might suggest particular methods such as foot exercises, wearing elastic stockings or tensing the leg muscles when standing. The person should also drink plenty of fluids and avoid standing for a long period, particularly in hot and crowded places.



Sometimes, people with this condition may benefit from surgery to insert an electrical pacemaker that helps regulate the heartbeat.


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