Experiencing a sudden loss of consciousness is often indicative of poor health or an underlying health condition. Not a lot of people know that persisting symptoms of fainting can be an indication of heart ailments.
According to Dr JK Padhi, cardiology and interventional cardiologist, AMRI Bhubaneswar, it is often believed that fainting is caused due to stress, food habits, changes in sleep cycle or lifestyle choices, and other factors. This common condition, however, can also indicate the primary symptoms of heart failure.
“It can have fatal injuries and warning signs of heart ailments such as arrhythmia or coronary heart disease. What makes it worse is it affects people of different age groups — 3 per cent of men and 3.5 per cent of women at some point in life, and 6 per cent of people over the age of 75,” the doctor says.
What is syncope?
Fainting is also known as ‘syncope’ in medical terms. It happens when the heart cannot pump the proper amount of blood to the brain. A person becomes unconscious and limps and can recover as soon as they gain consciousness. It can be a warning sign of arrhythmia, which is caused due to abnormal heartbeats and, if ignored, can even lead to fatal consequences like strokes or sudden cardiac arrest, explains Dr Padhi.
What makes it fatal?
The doctor says that since there is a huge misconception that syncope occurs only due to neurological problems, only a few patients reach out to a cardiologist in the primary stages.
“Cardiac syncope often occurs suddenly with no sign of dizziness or other pre-syncope symptoms.”
Some of the reasons why fainting can be fatal are:
1. Arrhythmia: Fainting can happen due to arrhythmia, which causes an abnormal blood supply to other body parts. While this condition in many cases is harmless, if not detected on time, it can lead to life-threatening consequences.
2. Aortic dissection: A rare condition leads to a tear in the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Some of the early symptoms include fainting.
3. Aortic valve stenosis: A condition in which the valve between the heart and the aorta is narrowed at the time of birth or during old age.
4. Significant injuries: While experiencing an episode of fainting, there is a possibility of having fatal injuries while falling. These injuries can be hazardous, especially in the case of head or bone injury.
– Feeling lightheaded
– Sudden collapse
– Feeling unsteady
– Changes in vision
– Pale skin
Lifestyle choices, changes and preventive measures
* It is vital to keep a record of fainting episodes to find out the reason behind it. Any instance of fainting can lead to fatal consequences and must not be avoided.
* One must consult an expert immediately on experiencing pre-syncope symptoms, including giddiness, nausea, severe weakness, fatigue, and vision change.
* In case of a sudden fainting episode, one must sit or lie down immediately to avoid injuries. This will also ensure improving the blood circulation to the brain.
* Syncope can also be managed with lifestyle changes, medication, and therapies. Eating healthily, working a healthy weight and sleep cycle, and exercising regularly are essential.
* In the case of a blackout caused by abnormal neurological regulation of blood pressure control, one must opt for simple home remedies like increased salt intake, drinking enough water, and other safety precautions.
* If syncope is caused due to an abnormally-slow heartbeat (bradycardia), the insertion of a pacemaker can be considered. A pacemaker is a small device used to manage irregular heartbeats by sending powerful electrical signals to the heart.
* In case of abnormally fast (tachycardia), devices such as ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) can be helpful to manage.