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Fainting

Fainting Overview

Fainting, which medical professionals call syncope (pronounced SIN-ko-pea), is a temporary loss of consciousness. Unlike a seizure, the person who faints usually regains alertness soon after regaining consciousness and will not have involuntary movement while unconscious. Fainting is caused by a temporary loss of the brain's blood supply and can be a sign of a more serious condition.

People of any age can faint, but elderly persons more often have a serious underlying cause.

  • Up to 35 % of the population has at least one episode of syncope during their lifetime.
  • Syncope accounts for 1%-3% of emergency department visits and 6% of hospital admissions.
  • The most common causes of syncope are vasovagal (about 20%, see below) and cardiac (10%) conditions. In up to 40 % of cases of syncope the cause is unknown.
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Syncope and Related Paroxysmal Spells »

Syncope is a term used to describe the loss of consciousness from temporary disruption of cerebral oxygenation.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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