Fainting could signal cardiac risk
More than one in four unexplained cardiac arrests occurred in people who had a previous episode of fainting, according to new Canadian research supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
The finding could help doctors better identify those at risk and even prevent some sudden cardiac deaths.
Up to 45,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur each year in Canada, and less than five percent of patients survive. Some of these arrests cannot be explained by the presence of underlying heart disease.
The study, led by cardiologist Dr. Andrew Krahn of the London Health Sciences Centre and Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ont., found that more than a quarter of these unexplained arrests occurred after an event of fainting, known as syncope. Patients also had frequent chest pain and palpitations.
More than half of the fainting episodes had characteristics that would point to a serious heart rhythm problem, based on a simple questionnaire your doctor can administer, known as the Calgary Syncope Symptom Score.
“The research and study findings suggest that fainting may be one signal that could be used to identify and prevent future events,” Krahn said.
“Funding research like Dr. Krahn's is a great example of how Heart and Stroke Foundation is continuing to save lives,” said Vincent Bowman, director of research for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Ontario. “Helping the public better understand the relationship between fainting and sudden death may encourage people to quickly seek the help they need to diagnose the presence of a serious heart arrhythmia.”
The study is published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology.
Learn about the risk of inherited rhythm disorders.