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Curr Opin Cardiol. 2006 Jan;21(1):34-41.

Investigating syncope: a review.

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.



This review focuses on recent literature on the cardiovascular investigation of syncope.


Syncope is a common and complex clinical entity with many varied etiologies, the diagnosis of which can often be elusive. Recent advances in the area of investigation in syncope include improvements in technologies for arrhythmia event monitoring and an increase in applicability and efficacy of traditional investigations. These advances have increased our ability to manage syncope.


A better understanding of the etiology of syncope in certain cohorts has allowed tailoring of investigations and management of syncope. This is evident when syncope occurs in the presence of structural heart disease, which is associated with a higher incidence of arrhythmias and an increased 1-year mortality. Patients with left-ventricular dysfunction should be considered candidates for an implantable cardioverter defibrillator based on heart function and syncopal presentation. In the absence of significant heart disease, investigations need to be tailored to diagnose neurally mediated causes for syncope and detection of intermittent bradycardia. The improved understanding of syncope has arisen from studies using improved investigational tools for syncope, in particular loop recorders, which are able to monitor cardiac rhythm over long periods. In those without structural heart disease and undifferentiated syncope, neurally mediated causes should be pursed initially. Tilt testing and loop recorders are employed most often in this cohort. Electrophysiological studies have largely been supplanted by implantable cardioverter defibrillator use in structural heart disease, with a low yield in patients with preserved heart function.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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