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Treatment for Vasovagal Syncope

Vasovagal syncope is fainting caused by a complex nerve and blood vessel reaction in the body. It’s the most common cause of fainting. Unlike other causes of fainting, it’s not a sign of a problem with the heart or brain.

 

How to say it

VAY-zo-VAY-gull

SINK-o-pee

Types of treatment

If you have had episodes of vasovagal syncope, your healthcare provider may tell you how to help prevent fainting. These might include:

  • Avoiding known triggers, such as standing for a long time or getting too hot

  • Stopping medicines that lower blood pressure, such as diuretics

  • Eating foods with more salt, to help keep up blood volume

  • Drinking plenty of fluids, to maintain blood volume

  • Doing moderate exercise such as lower leg strength training

  • Wearing support stockings to prevent blood pooling in the legs while standing

In some case, your healthcare provider may prescribe a medicine to help control vasovagal syncope. Medicine may or may not work. Your healthcare provider may have you try one of the below:

  • Alpha-1-adrenergic agonist, to increase your blood pressure such as midodrine

  • Corticosteroids, to help increase your sodium and fluid levels such as fludrocortisone

  • Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), to manage your nervous system response

If these medicines don’t work for you, your healthcare provider may advise orthostatic training. This method uses a tilt table to gradually increase the amount of time you are upright. In rare cases you may need a cardiac pacemaker to prevent ongoing fainting.

Avoiding triggers

To help reduce the risk of fainting, try to avoid triggers such as:

  • Standing for long periods

  • Too much heat

  • Intense emotion, such as fear

  • Intense pain

  • The sight of blood or a needle

  • Exercising for a long time

Living with vasovagal syncope

Try to avoid situations that put you at risk and stay well hydrated. Don't skip meals.

Watch for the warning signs of vasovagal syncope. These can include:

  • Nausea

  • Warm, flushed feeling

  • Face that turns pale

  • Sweaty palms

  • Feeling dizzy

  • Blurred vision

If you think you are about to faint, try one or more of these tips:

  • Lie down right away.

  • Prop your feet up so that they are higher than your head.

  • Tense up your arms.

  • Cross your legs.

If you faint, once you regain consciousness you should rest for a little while before moving around again.

Possible complications of vasovagal syncope

Fainting can be dangerous if it happens at certain times, like while driving. If you have chronic syncope that is not under control, your healthcare provider may advise you not to drive. This is especially important if you don’t have warning signs before you faint. Talk with your healthcare provider about what’s safe for you to do.

 

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider if you have fainting that occurs more often  or if you sustain significant injury from your fainting spell.

Unexplained syncope or fainting, especially in older people, can actually be signs of a serious life threatening condition such as a heart attack. Call 911 or seek immediate medical care if the cause of syncope is not known.

Don't drive yourself to the emergency department if you have had a syncopal episode to prevent injury to yourself or other passengers or drivers in the event another episode occurs while you are behind the wheel of a car.

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