Medical Q&As

Vasovagal attack -different to fainting?

Could you please explain to me about vasovagal attacks? I used to suffer from fainting when I was a child but now I have vasovagal attacks instead. I donít get a warning as you do with a fainting attack. The last time I had a vasovagal attack I really hurt myself and I am afraid that I might do so again.

I am slightly puzzled by your question because fainting is a form of vasovagal attack. The key physiological event in a vasovagal attack is that the blood pressure drops, which gives rise to a temporary reduction in blood flow to the brain, which in turn results in a temporary loss of consciousness. This is precisely what also happens during a simple fainting attack. However, there are other causes for vasovagal attacks other than fainting. These include such conditions as temporary abnormal heart rhythms, low blood sugar, transient ischaemic attacks and valvular problems of the heart. The list also includes micturition syncope and cough syncope which means temporary loss of consciousness triggered by urination or coughing. Epilepsy would also need to be considered as a possible cause for loss of consciousness. Your condition needs to be assessed further in order to establish the precise cause of your vasovagal attacks.