Vasovagal syncope (neurocardiogenic syncope, fainting)

Commonly known as simple fainting, neurocardiogenic syncope is a common cause of syncope. During an episode of vasovagal syncope, there is a sudden loss of consciousness, due to a rapid decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, followed by a rapid and complete recovery.

Most fainting will pass quickly and won’t be serious. Usually, a fainting episode will only last a few seconds, although it will make the person feel unwell and recovery may take several minutes. If the person doesn’t recover quickly, always seek urgent medical attention.

In most cases of vasovagal syncope, a person will have some warning that they are close to fainting. These signs include dizziness, light-headedness, nausea, pale face and skin, “tunnel-like” vision, and profuse sweating, heightened anxiety and restlessness. After the episode, symptoms may continue because of continued low blood pressure. Some people feel extremely tired and weak.

A variety of conditions can trigger vasovagal syncope, including standing in the heat for long periods, standing up too quickly, physical or psychological stress, the sight of blood, the sight of a hypodermic needle, other events or sight that the person finds distressing, dehydration, bleeding, pain, or medications. The heart rate slows dramatically and the blood vessels in

First aid treatment of a person who has fainted includes:

Helping the person to lie down; if they have fainted in a chair, they should be helped to lie down.

If the person is unconscious, roll then on their side, elevate the feet, loosen tight clothing

Call 000 if the patient does not regain consciousness within a few seconds or recovered within a few minutes.

Learning to take precautions to avoid potential triggers and minimise the potential risk of harm can be effective for sufferers of vasovagal syncope.

For example, if you faint while blood is being drawn, you may be instructed to lie down during the procedure. If you have a feeling that you will pass out during any activity, you should immediately lie down and elevate your legs. If you do faint, stay lying down for ten minutes, then, sit up slowly of you need to get up. Counter-manoeuvres such as tensing your arms with clenched fists, leg pumping, and leg- crossing may stop a vasovagal syncopal episode, or at least delay it long enough that you can lie down with the feet elevated. Such manoeuvres include:

Leg crossing; while tensing the leg, abdominal, and buttock muscles.

Hand gripping; grip a rubber ball or similar object as hard as possible.

Arm tensing; this involves gripping one hand with the other while simultaneously moving both arms away from the body.

Anybody who has an episode of syncope should consult their doctor for evaluation and to exclude any underlying cardiac problems.