Is there any point to vasovagal syncope?

  • J. Gert van Dijk
  • Robert Sheldon

Vasovagal fainting, i.e., neurally mediated syncope induced by slight pain, fear or merely standing, is a uniquely human characteristic. Other animals also fight over territory, make tools, make weapons, have culture, can use words and symbols, work together, have bosses, are monogamous or polygamous, and even have children who never seem to leave home. But we and we alone faint. And it is hardly uncommon: about 37% of people have at least one episode of vasovagal syncope (VVS) in their life up to age 70 [11].

Why this is so is unknown. First, let’s consider the broad features that have to be accommodated in an explanation. There are fainters and there are non-fainters. Those who faint usually start doing so in adolescence and remain prone to fainting throughout their lives. Few people have a first vasovagal syncopal spell after age 40. Women are more likely to faint than men (about 45 vs. 30%). Most fainters have multiple triggers. Fainters have a wide range of lifetime syncopal...


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Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Gert van Dijk
    • 1
  • Robert Sheldon
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept. of Neurology and Clinical NeurophysiologyLeiden University Medical CentreLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Libin Cardiovascular Institute of AlbertaUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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