Syncope or fainting is a symptom of temporary losing consciousness due to a sudden decrease in the blood flow to the brain brought about by certain triggers. It is slightly more common in females than in males (3.5% vs 3%) and it can occur at any age however the incidence increases as you get older.
Most of the time these triggers are harmless and requires no treatment, however like palpitations, syncope can be caused by certain heart condition that can cause life threatening and debilitating consequences.
Among the harmless triggers of syncope are called vasovagal/neurocardiogenic and situational syncope.
Vasovagal syncope is the most common cause of fainting and it usually occurs after an emotional stress, pain and sudden change of posture. It is caused when the there is a malfunction in our body’s regulation of blood pressure and heart rate leading to insufficient blood flow to the brain. Situational syncope on the other hand happens when you are exposed to a situation or doing certain activities like coughing forcefully, laughing, swallowing, urinating, and during extreme stress and emotions.
Cardiac syncope is caused by certain low and fast heart rate (bradycardia and tachycardia) and heart conditions that can cause hypotension like problems in heart valves and heart failure. This kind of syncope is usually seen in high risk and older people, are life-threatening and may lead to sudden death.
If you fainted or blacked out with palpitations and dizziness, occurred while doing strenuous activities like exercise and with history of syncope and sudden unexplained death in the family, you should seek an immediate heart doctor consult to find out the cause of your syncope.