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Fainting (cont.)

Fainting Treatment

The treatment of fainting depends on the diagnosis.

Vasovagal syncope

  • Lifestyle alterations: Drink plenty of water, increase salt intake (under medical supervision), and avoid prolonged standing.

Postural syncope

  • Lifestyle alterations: Sit up and flex calf muscles for a few minutes before getting out of bed. Avoid dehydration. Elderly people with low blood pressure after eating should avoid large meals or plan to lie down for a few hours after eating.
  • Medications: In most cases, medications that cause fainting are withdrawn or changed.

Cardiac syncope

The treatment for cardiac syncope is very specific to the underlying illness. Valvular heart disease often requires surgery, while an arrhythmia might require medications or other treatments listed below.

  • Medication and lifestyle alterations: These treatments are designed to optimize the heart's performance while limiting its demands. Controlling high blood pressure, for example, would involve medication and lifestyle changes. In some cases, specific anti-arrhythmic medication may be prescribed.
  • Surgery: Bypass surgery or angioplasty is used to treat coronary heart disease. For some valve problems, valves can be replaced. Catheter ablation is available to treat some arrhythmias.
  • Pacemaker: A pacemaker may be implanted to correct the heart rate, slowing the heart in certain types of fast arrhythmias or speeding up the heart for slow arrhythmias.
  • Implanted defibrillators are used to control life-threatening fast arrhythmias.

Fainting Follow-up

  • If the cause of fainting or syncope is not determined, and the affected person is not hospitalized, he or she should see a health care practitioner within a few days. Learn to check your own pulse and teach your family members what to do in case you faint again.
  • Many people never faint again after the first time.
  • The affected individual may be referred to a heart specialist if cardiac syncope is suspected.
  • If neurologic disease is suspected during the emergency department evaluation, the person should be referred to a neurologist.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017

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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.

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