Why do healthy people faint

When should a faint be examined by a doctor

The surroundings are blurred, noises sound like cotton wool, moments later you lose consciousness: A sudden faint can also affect healthy people. It often has harmless causes. The German Heart Foundation explains when it should be clarified. It could also indicate a corona infection, a recent US study shows.

For brain activity and thus awareness, it is necessary that the brain is continuously supplied with blood and is thus supplied with oxygen and nutrients. If the blood pressure falls to the systolic (upper) value below 70 mmHg, the brain is no longer supplied with sufficient blood, and the person passes out.

When should a faint be examined by a doctor

Often there is a dysregulation of the circulatory system behind it. In people who are prone to syncope, the blood vessels suddenly expand, causing the blood pressure to drop too much. Possible triggers are long periods of standing, heat or staying in stuffy rooms. Such reflex syncope often occurs in young people with healthy hearts. They are uncomfortable but do not affect life expectancy.

On the other hand, syncope caused by functional disorders of the heart is considered dangerous. Cardiac patients should therefore definitely have a doctor clarify any temporary fainting. Cardiologist Prof. Wolfgang von Scheidt from the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Heart Foundation says that heart muscle weakness, heart attacks, valve defects or pulmonary hypertension can be quickly identified with the ultrasound of the heart.

Ultrasound or long-term EKG

If, on the other hand, the syncope is based on cardiac arrhythmias, a long-term ECG or an event recorder can help identify the disturbance. In particular, ventricular tachycardia, in which the heart chambers contract far too quickly and thus prevent normal supply of the circulatory system, is immediately life-threatening. Relatives of heart patients should therefore dial 112 immediately and, if necessary, start resuscitation, if the person concerned does not wake up from the faint for a short time.

Arrhythmia as a cause of fainting

If the arrhythmia is recognized as the cause of the unconsciousness, doctors usually use a defibrillator for the affected person. In an emergency, this can normalize the heartbeat by delivering an electric shock.

Even with slow cardiac arrhythmias, syncope can occur in addition to attacks of dizziness and reduced performance. The symptoms lead to sudden cardiac death far less often and can be eliminated with a pacemaker.

Damage to the nervous system as the cause

Syncope caused by damage to the nervous system, for example in the case of diabetes mellitus or kidney dysfunction, is also a cause for concern, warns von Scheidt, Director of the 1st Medical Clinic at Augsburg University Hospital. "In these cases, the doctor must clarify the cause and adjust the medication if necessary."

Corona could also be behind a faint

A US study showed that a faint could possibly also be due to a corona infection. A total of 102 patients from New York State who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 were included in the study. 24 percent of them were hospitalized for syncope, near syncope, or an unexplained fall. They were less likely to have fever or respiratory symptoms.

The reasons for syncope in COVID-19 patients are likely to be multifactorial, according to Dr. Tara Chen from Rochester Regional Health. Fainting should be taken seriously as an early warning sign. The study was published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicin.

Photo: Adobe Stock / Tunatura

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