Vasovagal Syncope: A Common Cause of Fainting

One of the most common causes of fainting episodes is vasovagal syncope. In vasovagal syncope, the brain misinterprets stimuli and overreacts to it, which then causes a sudden drop in blood pressure. The drop in blood pressure results in lower blood flow to the brain, which causes the person to faint.

Simple things can cause a vasovagal episode, such as the sight of blood, a quick change in body position, or having just eaten a large meal. After a fainting episode, blood flow returns to normal, and the patient regains consciousness. 

For some people, vasovagal syncope may be an isolated event and never recur, but for others, it may happen chronically. Vasovagal syncope is not typically caused by underlying problems with the heart or brain and generally doesn’t require medical treatment. 

However, there can be many causes of fainting other than vasovagal syncope, so it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor after any fainting episode and especially if you have repeat occurrences of fainting. Your doctor may run some tests to rule out any potential heart conditions that could be responsible for fainting, such as an abnormal heart rhythm that is too fast or too slow.

While there’s typically no treatment required for vasovagal syncope, there are several things that may help lessen the frequency, including staying hydrated, doing regular aerobic exercise, and sometimes medication. Learning to recognize the warning signs and individual triggers of vasovagal syncope is also helpful so you can warn others or take safety precautions before fainting.

Warning signs of syncope include lightheadedness, dizziness, and nausea. If you feel any of these signs, sitting or lying down can keep you safe in the event of syncope or prevent the syncope altogether. For individuals who experience syncope after changing position too quickly, simply adjusting the way you move from one position to another can greatly reduce the frequency or prevent syncope completely. The same is true of other triggers for syncope, so consider making notes about what was happening prior to each episode so you can begin to identify personal triggers and prevent them.

If you are experiencing repeat episodes of fainting and want to rule out any underlying heart conditions, schedule an appointment with one of our Oklahoma Heart Hospital physicians today for an evaluation.