Definition of Vasovagal Syncope
Vasovagal syncope is the common faint that may be experienced by
normal persons with no evidence of heart disease.
Description of Vasovagal Syncope
The vagus nerve is the nerve of the muscle in the throat and the
larynx, and is the nerve that slows the rate of the heartbeat and
supplies the parasympathetic nerves to the lungs, the stomach, the
esophagus, and other abdominal organs.
arasympathetic means the nerves pertaining to the autonomic
nervous system; the system which is concerned with control of
involuntary bodily functions.
Stimulating the parasympathetic nerves generally produces
vasodilation of the part supplied; in general, it slows the heart
rate, decreases the blood pressure; contracts the pupils; causes
copious secretion of the saliva; and increases gastrointestinal
Stimulation of the vagus causes slowing of the heart rate and, if
sufficient, can cause fainting or even cardiac arrest. Usually,
when this happens, the heart's ventricles start beating on their
own despite continued vagal stimulation.
In the moment-to-moment regulation of heart rate at rest, the
vagal influence is dominant and, particularly in athletes with low
resting heart rates, this 'vagal tone' can be considerable.
Hypotension, or low blood pressure, is associated with increased
nervous system activation and increased heart rate, but one type,
hypovolemic hypotension, occurring after hemorrhage or certain
drugs, induces a decrease in heart rate. Both effects result from
abnormal excitation of the vagus nerve, and hence, the term used
to describe the loss of consciousness that may result is vasovagal
Causes and Risk Factors of Vasovagal
Syncope (fainting) or presyncope (faintness or feeling faint
before fainting) is usually brought about by low blood pressure
with reduction of blood flow to the brain.
Vasovagal syncope is frequently recurrent and tends to take place
during emotional stress (especially in a warm, crowded room),
after an injurious, shocking accident, and during pain. Mild blood
loss, poor physical condition, prolonged bed rest, anemia, fever,
organic heart disease, and fasting are other factors which
increase the possibility of fainting in susceptible individuals.
Treatment of Vasovagal Syncope
In most instances, hypotension and fainting are relatively benign.
If you feel all right, you do not have to do anything. Treatment
depends on the initiating mechanisms. Your doctor should look
first for those causes that constitute an emergency or serious
If fainting is involved, then lying down with elevation of the
legs and removal of the offending stimulus will rapidly restore
If there are no contraindications, a diet with more salt may be
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