Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Syncope
Syncope is a loss of consciousness (fainting) that occurs when
blood pressure drops very low and not enough blood reaches the brain. A person
may have shortness of breath, palpitations, or chest discomfort before
The reduction in blood flow usually happens quickly, which causes
symptoms to appear suddenly.
Syncope can be caused by several conditions, but it most often
occurs when changes in heart rate or heart rhythm reduce the amount of blood
flow to the body. Fainting caused by a problem in the heart is called cardiac
syncope. Other types of syncope that are not linked with heart problems
include neurally mediated syncope, also called vasovagal, neurocardiogenic, and
Syncope requires medical attention.
Current as of:
November 14, 2014
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.