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Fainting (Syncope): Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Fainting (syncope) is the 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 terms, 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.

Related Symptoms & Signs

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/1/2017
Medically Reviewed on 5/1/2017

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