Many people may not be familiar with the term syncope. Syncope in a true sense is a medical term for a bout of blackout and fainting that is usually the result of poor blood supply to the brain. Loss of consciousness for a fraction of second or in some cases for few seconds or minutes happens when your heart rate slows down and your blood pressure drops. During this period, the blood supply to your brain may be hampered.
There are several triggering factors that can cause syncope attack. Sudden trauma to your finger tip or sight of blood can be a reason for syncope attack.
Causes Of Syncope Episodes
Syncope usually can occur at any age; however elderly individuals are more prone to this condition in comparison to young individuals. Almost 3 to 4 percent of elderly individuals may have the history of such episodes some time in their old age. What happens in a syncope attack is that certain portion of the nervous system is not functioning normally due to situational crisis. It may lead your heart to work slowly and widening of the blood vessels of the lower limbs. The blood that has to flow to your brain now flows more towards the lower limbs causing the person to faint.
Often the cause of syncope is not related to any disease but can be due to the following reasons:
- Standing for long time as it happens during a parade (that is the reason many soldiers may faint while they are marching for a parade).
- Some people faint at the sight of blood.
- Emotional stress, fear and anxiety may be the cause.
- Straining hard at bowel movements.
- Fainting while standing for a long time in sun is common.
- Rarely syncope may indicate a serious health trouble such as heart disease (irregularity in rate and rhythm of the heart known as arrhythmia), severe loss of blood, low blood sugar in a diabetic patient etc.
Certain risk factors that can cause syncope are:
- Elderly age.
- Use of recreational drugs.
- Person who already suffers from heart disease, blood pressure.
- Pregnant women.
Chances of syncope increase among elderly because:
- They often take sedatives and other drugs such as diuretics, anti hypertensive etc. for age related diseases.
- Physiological changes in their blood vessels and heart.
Treatment And Prevention Of Syncope Or Fainting Spells
Usually the patient may not require any type of specific treatment for syncope. However, it is important to know the cause for such an episode so that measures can be taken to prevent future episodes. Few of them may require medications to keep their blood pressure under control and anti depressants. Those whose heart has valvular or conduction trouble may require surgery or pace maker.
Preventive measures include:
- Avoid standing for long period in one place.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Avoid tight clothes.
- Sleep with the foot end of the bed slightly raised.
- Do not change your position suddenly, instead take time to turn around or bend.
- Avoid excessive consumption of tea and alcohol.
- Wear stockings when you have to stand for long duration, to avoid pooling of blood in lower limb.
Certain herbs may promote healthy blood circulation; they include green tea, ginko biloba and bilberry.
Alternative medicinal therapies such as homeopathy, acupuncture are also valuable for preventing further syncope attack.