Syncope (fainting)
Partial or complete loss of consciousness with interruption of awareness of oneself and ones surroundings. When the loss of consciousness is temporary and there is spontaneous recovery, it is referred to as syncope or, in nonmedical quarters, fainting. Syncope accounts for one in every 30 visits to an emergency room. It is pronounced sin-ko-pea. Syncope is due to a temporary reduction in blood flow and therefore a shortage of oxygen to the brain. This leads to lightheadedness or a "black out" episode, a loss of consciousness. Temporary impairment of the blood supply to the brain can be caused by heart conditions and by conditions that do not directly involve the heart: Non-cardiac causes: Syncope is most commonly caused by conditions that do not directly involve the heart. These conditions include: Postural (orthostatic) hypotension: Drop in blood pressure due to changing body position to a more vertical position after lying or sitting; Dehydration causing a decrease in blood volume. Blood pressure medications leading to low blood pressure. Diseases of the nerves to the legs in older people (especially with diabetes or Parkinson's disease) when poor tone of the nerves of the legs draws blood into the legs from the brain. High altitude. Brain stroke or "near-stroke" (transient ischemic attack). A migraine attack. Fainting after certain situations (situational syncope) such as: Blood drawing, Urinating (micturition syncope), Defecating (defecation syncope), Swallowing (swallowing syncope), or Coughing (cough syncope) that trigger a reflex of the involuntary nervous system (the vasovagal reaction) that slows the heart and dilates blood vessels in the legs and cause one to feel nausea, sweating, or weakness just before losing fainting. Cardiac causes: Heart conditions that can cause syncope or fainting due to temporary loss of consciousness include: Abnormal heart rhythms (heart beating too fast or too slow). Abnormalities of the heart valves (aortic stenosis or pulmonic valve stenosis). High blood pressure in the arteries supplying the lungs (pulmonary artery hypertension). Tears in the aorta (aortic dissection). Widespread disease of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy). To be sure, many of the causes of temporary loss of consciousness can be detected by a careful history. Dizziness after standing up in an older person suggests postural hypotension. Temporary loss of consciousness after urinating, defecating, or coughing suggests situational syncope. Cardiac causes of temporary loss of consciousness such as aortic stenosis or cardiomyopathy are suggested by the occurrence of the event during exercise. Signs of weakness localized to certain areas of the body with temporary loss of consciousness suggest stroke.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Syncope — Syn co*pe, n. [L. syncope, syncopa, Gr. ? a cutting up, a syncope; akin to ? to beat together, to cut up, cut short, weavy; sy n with + ? to strike, cut.] 1. (Gram.) An elision or retrenchment of one or more letters or syllables from the middle… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Fainting — Faint ing, n. Syncope, or loss of consciousness owing to a sudden arrest of the blood supply to the brain, the face becoming pallid, the respiration feeble, and the heat s beat weak. [1913 Webster] {Fainting fit}, a fainting or swoon; syncope.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Fainting fit — Fainting Faint ing, n. Syncope, or loss of consciousness owing to a sudden arrest of the blood supply to the brain, the face becoming pallid, the respiration feeble, and the heat s beat weak. [1913 Webster] {Fainting fit}, a fainting or swoon;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • syncope — [siŋ′kə pē, sin′kə pē] n. [LL < Gr synkopē < syn , together + koptein, to cut < IE base * (s)kep > CAPON] 1. the dropping of sounds or letters from the middle of a word, as in (gläsʹtər) for Gloucester 2. a fainting, or loss of… …   English World dictionary

  • syncope — fainting; n. loss of consciousness due to a sudden drop in blood pressure, resulting in a temporarily insufficient flow of blood to the brain. It commonly occurs in otherwise healthy people and may be caused by an emotional shock, by standing for …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • syncope — syncopic /sin kop ik/, syncopal, adj. /sing keuh pee , sin /, n. 1. Gram. the contraction of a word by omitting one or more sounds from the middle, as in the reduction of never to ne er. 2. Pathol. brief loss of consciousness associated with… …   Universalium

  • Syncope, coughing — The temporary loss of consciousness upon coughing. Syncope is the temporary loss of consciousness or, in plain English, fainting. The situations that trigger this reaction are diverse and include having blood drawn, straining while urinating… …   Medical dictionary

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