NYMC Faculty Publications

Postural Heart Rate Changes in Young Patients With Vasovagal Syncope

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April 2017




BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Recurrent postural vasovagal syncope (VVS) is caused by transient cerebral hypoperfusion from episodic hypotension and bradycardia; diagnosis is made by medical history. VVS contrasts with postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS), defined by chronic daily symptoms of orthostatic intolerance with excessive upright tachycardia without hypotension. POTS has recently been conflated with VVS when excessive tachycardia is succeeded by hypotension during tilt testing. We hypothesize that excessive tachycardia preceding hypotension and bradycardia is part of the vasovagal response during tilt testing of patients with VVS. METHODS: We prospectively performed head-up tilt (HUT) testing on patients with recurrent VVS (n = 47, 17.9 +/- 1.1 y), who fainted at least 3 times within the last year, and control subjects (n = 15, 17.1 +/- 1.0 y), from age and BMI-matched volunteers and measured blood pressure, heart rate (HR), cardiac output, total peripheral resistance, and end tidal carbon dioxide. RESULTS: Baseline parameters were the same in both groups. HR (supine versus 5 and 10 minutes HUT) significantly increased in control (65 +/- 2.6 vs 83 +/- 3.6 vs 85 +/- 3.7, P /=40 beats per minute by 5 and 10 minutes or before faint with HUT, occurred in 26% and 44% of patients with VVS, respectively, but not in controls. CONCLUSIONS: Orthostasis in VVS is accompanied by large increases in HR that should not be construed as POTS.