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Syncope in Older Adults

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is syncope?

Syncope is also called fainting or passing out. Syncope is a sudden, temporary loss of consciousness, followed by a fall from a standing or sitting position. A syncope episode is usually short.

What causes or increases my risk for syncope?

Syncope is caused by a decrease in blood flow to the brain. When blood flow to the brain decreases, oxygen to the brain also decreases. Any of the following conditions may cause syncope:

What signs and symptoms may occur before syncope?

How is the cause of syncope diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you. He or she will ask if you have other medical conditions. Tell your provider everything you know about your syncope episode. Include where you were when you fainted and what you were doing before symptoms started. Tell your provider about any symptoms you had, such as a warm feeling or a fast heartbeat. Your provider will ask about your medical history, including any heart conditions in your family. Ask anyone who saw you faint to come with you to tell the provider details of what happened. Your provider may order the following tests to find out what is causing your symptoms:

How is syncope treated?

Treatment depends on the cause of your syncope. To prevent syncope from happening again, you may need any of the following:

What can I do to manage syncope?

What can I do to prevent a syncope episode?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.