Fainting may be a sign of more serious illness

Fainting may be a sign of more serious illness


Health Desk

About 35-40% of people faint at least once in their lives. But, for about 10% of people who visit the emergency room for fainting, it can be a symptom of a potentially life-threatening condition like arrhythmia, or heart rhythm disturbance.

Researchers from the Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa have created a screening tool to help emergency doctors, predict the risk of a patient experiencing adverse events from these hidden conditions within a month of fainting. These include irregular heartbeat, heart attacks and even death.

Giving an insight, Dr. Venkatesh Thiruganasambandamoorthy, an emergency physician and scientist, said fainting is a big problem. He added, the way fainting patients are examined in emergency rooms varies greatly between physicians and hospitals.

“We hope that this screening tool will make the process more consistent and improve the detection of serious conditions related to fainting,” he said.

After following up with patients and analyzing clinical findings from emergency doctors, Dr. Thiruganasambandamoorthy and his team found eight factors that physicians can plug into a screening tool. Added together, these factors give the patient’s total risk of an adverse event, from very low to very high.

These factors include, the physician’s diagnosis of the cause of fainting, signs of a common and harmless variety of fainting, such as being in a warm or crowded place, standing for a long time, or feeling intense fear, emotion or pain, a history of heart disease, abnormal electrocardiogram (ECG) measurements and higher levels of troponin, a protein specific to heart muscle.

The study is published in Canadian Medical Association Journal.


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