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Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2013 Jan-Feb;55(4):382-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2012.11.001.

Syncope management unit: evolution of the concept and practice implementation.

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Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and Department of Emergency Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, AZ 85054, USA.


Syncope, a clinical syndrome, has many potential causes. The prognosis of a patient experiencing syncope varies from benign outcome to increased risk of mortality or sudden death, determined by the etiology of syncope and the presence of underlying disease. Because a definitive diagnosis often cannot be established immediately, hospital admission is frequently recommended as the "default" approach to ensure patient's safety and an expedited evaluation. Hospital care is costly while no studies have shown that clinical outcomes are improved by the in-patient practice approach. The syncope unit is an evolving practice model based on the hypothesis that a multidisciplinary team of physicians and allied staff with expertise in syncope management, working together and equipped with standard clinical tools could improve clinical outcomes. Preliminary data have demonstrated that a specialized syncope unit can improve diagnosis in a timely manner, reduce hospital admission and decrease the use of unnecessary diagnostic tests. In this review, models of syncope units in the emergency department, hospital and outpatient clinics from different practices in different countries are discussed. Similarities and differences of these syncope units are compared. Outcomes and endpoints from these studies are summarized. Developing a syncope unit with a standardized protocol applicable to most practice settings would be an ultimate goal for clinicians and investigators who have interest, expertise, and commitment to improve care for this large patient population.

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