Friday, May 08, 2009

Correct Diagnosis of Syncope Important for Treatment

Diagnosis often difficult due to multiple causes of loss of consciousness

08 may 2009-- Although difficult, correctly diagnosing the cause of syncope, a transient lack of consciousness followed by a quick recovery, is important in initiating effective treatment, according to a review in the May 12 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

David G. Benditt, M.D., and John T. Nguyen, M.D., from the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis note that syncope is a transient loss of consciousness due to insufficient cerebral nutrient supply, with complete and prompt recovery. Even though syncope is rarely fatal, they note that it can increase the risk of physical injury and reduce quality of life.

The researchers write that since syncope is not the only cause of transient loss of consciousness, and symptoms are fleeting and often unwitnessed by medical professionals, diagnosis can be challenging. Nevertheless, identifying the cause of syncope, such as structural heart disease, is important and is best done by initial risk stratification to obtain the correct diagnosis and initiate effective treatment.

"Despite the difficulties, a thorough evaluation of the cause of syncope is warranted in all patients -- not just in those deemed to be at high mortality risk," Benditt and Nguyen conclude. "The goal in every case should be to determine the cause with sufficient confidence to provide a reliable assessment of prognosis and treatment options."

Benditt is a consultant to three companies that manufacture instruments that evaluate and treat syncope.

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