Fainting guidelines instruct physicians to search for heart conditions

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A set of guidelines on how fainting could be a sign of a serious heart condition was recently issued by the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association and the Heart Rhythm Society.

The guidelines, which are the first of their kind on the topic, can help physicians decide whether fainting is being caused by a heart condition. About 14 percent of Americans have recurrent fainting, according to the guidelines.

“This is very important because fainting impacts thousands of people every day,” said Win-Kuang Shen, MD, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic’s Phoenix campus and chair of the group that developed the guidelines, in a statement. “Having these guidelines is not only good for the clinicians using them, but for everyone.”

Often times, heart conditions responsible for fainting are more common in people over the age of 60 because older people are more likely to have existing heart conditions or regularly take blood pressure medication.

The guidelines recommend that after fainting, people should get a physical exam and get an electrocardiogram. Additional tests, such a MRI or CT scans are only necessary if a physician believes a larger issue could be causing the fainting.