Reflex Syncope (NCS/VVS/NMS)

SYNCOPE is a medical term for a blackout that is caused by a sudden lack of blood supply to the brain.  This is very common, and occurs in roughly half of all individuals during their lives.  There are many causes of Syncope, but the most common by far is 'Vasovagal Syncope' (also known as Reflex Syncope).  This is also known as the 'common faint'.  Fainting may be simple, with a typical warning, going pale with a gentle collapse to the ground, a brief period of unconsciousness, and a prompt recovery.  However, fainting may also be complex.  There may be no warning, there may be jerking of the limbs and even incontinence (accidental wetting), and some people may take quite a while to come around.  To a patient, it may be very traumatic, and can be triggered by having blood drawn, or seeing an accident on the street; you turn pale and may become sweaty or nauseous; sounds appear to come from a distance, the world goes dark, and you fall down, unconscious.  Complex fainting may appear just like a "seizure" or "fit".  However, this can occur when there is a sudden fall in blood flow to the brain, it does not have to be due to epilepsy.  Blackouts due to epilepsy occur when brain cells suddenly activate chaotically, but usually the blood flow remains normal.  Furthermore, while Syncope affects 50% of people, epilepsy affects about 1%.  It is very important to make sure that Syncope and epilepsy are distinguished from each other.  A blackout is too often assumed to be due to epilepsy.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can vary from patient to patient and from one faint to another.  The most common symptoms are light-headedness, dizziness, and nausea.  Accompanied with these symptoms may also be feelings of being hot, clammy or sweaty and sometimes experiences of visual and hearing disturbances.  Often individuals become extremely pale looking. These symptoms are known as "pre-syncope" and may or may not be followed by a complete blackout.  Some people get very little, or no warning symptoms prior to loss of consciousness. A tendency to faint can run in families.

Other names for Vasovagal Syncope