Fainting: Is it serious or not?

Approximately 1-3 % of visits to the ER are due to fainting. However, most cases are diagnosed as not serious, but fainting in some can be due to potentially life threatening conditions such as  arrhythmia or heart rhythm disturbance. Most ER doctors will not be able to screen for these life threatening conditions, until now, where a nine question screening tool promises answers.

This new screening tool will help doctors determine if a case of fainting is a sign of an underlying condition. The tool was designed by researchers at the Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa in Canada.

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According to researchers 7-23% of patients who visit the ER due to fainting, will experience an adverse affect within 7-30 days.

The nine questions tool will help ER doctors predict if the patient is at serious risk, including irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and even death. If the risk using the tool shows a high figure then the doctor will know to screen the patient further.

The study conducted in Canada, researched 4000 plus patients who visited the ER for fainting and from those 147 saw a serious event occur within 30 days of being discharged. These events included death, heart attack and irregular heartbeat.

Some of the screening questions included the following

The doctor’s diagnosis of the cause of fainting
Evidence of signs of common and harmless causes of fainting (eg; being in a crowded)
History of heart disease
Abnormal readings on electrocardiogram (ECG)
High levels of a heart muscle protein called troponin.