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Dizzy spells and Syncope

Dizzy spells and particularly blackouts, often known as syncope, warrant specialist assessment and further investigation. Dizzy spells or syncope may be associated with other symptoms such palpitation, chest pain or breathlessness but can also occur without warning. Symptoms may simply be caused by dehydration and low blood pressure, sometimes due to hot weather, crowded spaces or excess prescribed medication.

It is important to consider other causes including arrhythmia, structural heart disease, inherited cardiac disease and neurocardiogenic syncope in addition to non-cardiovascular causes such as epilepsy.

Investigation of dizzy spells and syncope

Patients with dizzy spells or syncope may require further investigations including:

  • Blood tests including thyroid function tests
  • 12-lead Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • 24 hour to 7-day ECG holter (heart monitor)
  • Event recorders
  • Implantable loop recorders
  • Tilt table testing

Treatment of dizzy spells and syncope

This very much depends on the specific cause for symptoms. Treatment options can range from simple lifestyle advice, drug therapy, pacemaker or defibrillator insertion or cardiac surgery for structural heart disease.