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Can J Cardiol. 1996 Oct;12(10):989-94.

Recurrent unexplained syncope: diagnostic and therapeutic approach.

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1
Department of Medicine, University of Western Ontario, London. akrahn@julian.uwo.ca

Abstract

Patients with syncope of unknown etiology may suffer from recurrent disability. Syncopal episodes are often too infrequent and unpredictable for detection with conventional ambulatory monitoring techniques. A symptom-rhythm correlation is a frequently unattainable gold standard in many patients. Clinicians must often rely on the results of laboratory testing to make an inferential determination of the etiology of spontaneous syncope. Electrophysiological testing has a role in patients with structural heart disease and suspected ventricular arrhythmias, but is negative in 14% to 70% of patients studied and has a limited role in patients without structural heart disease. The external loop recorder is an ambulatory device worn for weeks or even months that freezes the preceding rhythm strip after an episode of spontaneous syncope. This device is useful in patients with frequent symptoms but is hampered by lack of patient compliance and technical limitations. In the absence of a diagnosis after extensive testing, an empirical trial based on index of suspicion may be warranted. This may include implantation of a pacemaker for suspected bradycardia or empirical therapy directed at a tachycardia. Finally, recent reports of an insertable loop recorder suggest a high diagnostic yield with a broad spectrum of etiologies in patients with recurrent syncope in spite of negative noninvasive and electrophysiological testing. In the future, such a device may assume a prominent role in the investigation of syncope.

PMID:
9191491
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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