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Fainting (syncope) has many different causes.
Vasovagal syncope: Also known as the "common faint," this is the most frequent cause of syncope. It results from an abnormal circulatory reflex. The heart pumps more forcefully and the blood vessels relax, but the heart rate does not compensate fast enough to maintain blood flow to the brain. People older than 45 years of age rarely experience a first "common faint." Causes of vasovagal syncope include the following:
Situational syncope: This is a type of vasovagal syncope that only occurs in particular situations. Causes of situational syncope include the following:
Postural syncope: This occurs when a person lying down, who feels perfectly well and alert, suddenly faints upon standing up. The brain's blood flow decreases when the person stands due to a temporary drop in blood pressure. This sometimes occurs in people who have recently started or changed certain cardiovascular medications. This type of fainting results from either or both of the following causes:
Cardiac syncope: Heart disease causes a person to faint by a variety of mechanisms. Cardiac causes of fainting are generally life-threatening and include the following:
Neurologic syncope: This syncope can be due to a neurologic condition or event listed below.
Psychogenic syncope: Hyperventilation from an anxiety disorder can cause fainting. Rarely, people pretend to faint to minimize stress or for some recognized gain. The diagnosis of psychogenic syncope should only be considered after all other causes have been excluded.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/15/2014
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