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Vasovagal syncope is also called the common "fainting spell". It can be associated with normal people who have no heart disease or it can be associated with those who do have heart disease. It is caused by a malfunction in the vagus nerve, which is the nerve that innervates the throat, the larynx, the heart, esophagus, the stomach, and other abdominal organs. The vagus nerve is a parasympathetic nerve that controls involuntary body functions including heart rate and the function of the stomach. It generally leads to vasodilation or dilatation of the blood vessels. It also slows the heart rate and contracts the pupils; it causes a great deal of saliva to form and increases the activity of the gastrointestinal tract. It causes low blood pressure, which results in fainting.

When the heart rate and blood pressure lessens, cardiac arrest or simple fainting can occur. The ventricles of the heart beat on their own and the sinoatrial node's affect on blood pressure is lessened. This is called having an increased "vagal tone", which results in the fainting episode.

Hypotension resulting in fainting can be due to an increased heart rate, decreased fluid volume and sometimes a decreased heart rate. If the problem is vasovagal syncope, the heart rate and blood pressure are decreased together so that the person cannot get enough blood up to the brain and you faint.

Syncope is often associated with pre-syncope, a feeling of faintness that happens before you actually faint. You feel a sensation of sweatiness, dark vision and lightheadedness that causes the vasovagal syncope to happen. You feel these symptoms whenever you are under stress, when you are giving blood or when you are in a warm and crowded space. After an injury that causes pain, you can easily feel pre-syncope and faint. If you are low on fluid volume, you can faint and if you have anemia, a prolonged bed rest, fever, organic heart disease or if you haven't eaten or have poor physical conditioning, you can have vasovagal syncope.

Vasovagal syncope is a diagnosis based on a history and physical examination. If the circumstances are ripe for vasovagal syncope and if you note a low blood pressure and low pulse, you can easily suspect it is a simple fainting episode. The patient usually recovers their loss of consciousness quickly and once they have lain down and had their feet put up.

The treatment of vasovagal syncope includes laying the person into a comfortable position and raising their legs above the level of the heart. Often you have nothing to do and the person simply regains consciousness on their own. Doctors need to look for the underlying cause of the problem and correct it so the person does not faint again. Look at possible causes of the condition and correct it. If it happens frequently without cause, eating a diet with more salt in it can help reduce the incidence of the condition. The condition is not considered risky unless the person faints and injures themselves in the process.

You need to arrange for those who will experience bad news or see an uncomfortable thing to be seated during the event. If someone faints, you need to catch the person so they do not fall into something. Lie the person down for five to ten minutes and protect his or her airway. Check their vital signs to make sure nothing dangerous is going on and wait for them to regain consciousness. Be prepared to resuscitate the person if they have a severe problem. Determine the precipitating causes and make sure the patient knows not to expose themselves to the same thing in the future. Tell the patient that this is a common physiological response and let them know how they can prevent such situations to happen in the future.

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Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our personal injury solicitors operate a specialist medical negligence compensation service. Our Vasovagal Syncope solicitors deal with claims using a no win no fee arrangement which means that if you don�t win then you don�t pay them their professional costs. If you would like legal advice at no cost with no further obligation just complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices or use the helpline and a Vasovagal Syncope solicitor will review your medical negligence compensation claim and phone you immediately.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here