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Syncope Specialist

Northwest Houston Heart Center

Cardiology located in Tomball, Cypress, Magnolia, & The Woodlands, TX

Syncope (fainting) can be a harmless event that, for example, the sight of blood or dehydration triggers. But, it’s also a sign of cardiovascular conditions that need prompt treatment to prevent serious complications. At Northwest Houston Heart Center, A. Adnan Aslam, MD, FACC, FSCAI, and Roy Norman, DO, perform comprehensive diagnostic testing to identify the cause of syncope, then provide the treatment to prevent future episodes and promote health and wellness. If you need an evaluation after fainting, call the office in Tomball, Cypress, Magnolia, or The Woodlands, Texas, or schedule an appointment online today.

Syncope Q & A

What is syncope?

Syncope is the medical term for fainting or losing consciousness. You faint when the supply of blood to your brain suddenly drops.

There are different types of syncope, each with its own causes. The most common include:

Vasovagal syncope

This type of fainting occurs in response to a trigger. Common triggers include the sight of blood or needles, dehydration, anxiety, hyperventilation, and standing for a long time. The trigger makes your heart rate and blood pressure drop, which restricts blood flow to your brain and makes you faint.

Cardiovascular syncope

Any cardiovascular condition that interferes with blood flow to your brain can lead to syncope. The problems most likely to cause fainting include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
  • Fast heartbeat (bradycardia)
  • Irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation)
  • Structural heart problems
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Orthostatic hypotension

Low blood pressure often occurs due to a heart condition. However, the problem also develops from other health problems such as thyroid disease, low blood sugar, nutrient deficiencies, nervous system disorders, and infections.

What symptoms accompany fainting?

Some people experience symptoms before fainting, such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Blurry vision
  • Tunnel vision
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tingling in the lips or fingertips

A fainting episode should last no longer than a few seconds to a few minutes. If you lose consciousness for more than a few minutes, it could be due to a seizure.

How is syncope treated?

The first step is determining the cause of syncope. Northwest Houston Heart Center thoroughly evaluates your health and delves into issues like what you were doing when you fainted and if you had symptoms before fainting or suddenly lost consciousness.

Most patients with syncope need an electrocardiogram, which often leads to a diagnosis. Depending on the results, you might also need an echocardiogram, ultrasound, Holter or event monitor, stress testing, or impedance cardiography.

After your provider diagnoses the cause of your fainting, they recommend a treatment plan that targets the problem. 

These are a few examples of treatments you may receive:

  • Dietary changes
  • Medications
  • Pacemaker
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator
  • Angioplasty and stenting
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Cardioversion

In addition to potentially having a cardiovascular condition, one concern about fainting is the potential of hurting yourself (if you fall) or others (if you’re driving when you faint). Your provider talks with you about precautions you may need to take during your treatment.

If you have a fainting spell, don’t wait to get an evaluation. Call Northwest Houston Heart Center, or book an appointment online today.