Syncope and Heredity

Angie Szumlinski News

Syncope is the most common form of transient loss of consciousness (TLOC), defined as sudden-onset bradycardia and vasodilation leading to an abrupt decrease in cardiac output, cerebral hypoperfusion, and temporary loss of consciousness. Many of our residents experience episodes of syncope similar to this that may be triggered by orthostatic or emotional stress, pain, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Why some individuals are susceptible to the reflex syncope, often referred to as vasovagal, is not well understood. Studies on familial predisposition have suggested higher incidence in affected families, especially among twins and for episodes before age 20 years. In a recent study published in JAMA, the results suggest that there may be hereditary components of reflex syncope susceptibility.

The study suggests that risk of syncope among relatives of individuals with syncope is associated with the degree of relationship, being strongest in twins and siblings but still significant in third-degree relatives. The study also suggests that women are more prone to syncope independent of family relationships. Not surprising, women tend to experience more frequent falls than men; many believe this is related to body mass and center of gravity, but who knew that it might be hereditary? At the end of the day, assessment for fall risk, root cause analysis, and appropriate interventions to assist in preventing significant injury related to falls are still “in”! Don’t let your guard down, stay tuned in, and audit for compliance.

Stay well, mask up, and stay tuned!