Health & medicine Science & tech

Recurrent fainting: could a new pacemaker provide a solution?

Biotronik has announced positive results from the largest study of its kind – looking into the efficacy of treating syncope with a dual-chamber pacemaker incorporating closed loop stimulation. The study found that, after two years, syncope recurrence rate was reduced by 77% compared to the control group. Abi Millar spoke to Biotronik to find out more about this innovative system.

For patients with recurrent fainting, quality of life can take a hit. While around a third of the population will experience fainting (also called syncope) at least once in their lifetime, repeated episodes can prove hard to manage, and may point to an underlying problem.

One 2006 study found that serious accidents (such as fractures and car crashes) have been reported in 6% of patients with syncope, while 12% have experienced soft tissue injury and 29% laceration and bruises. In patients with heart disease, fainting episodes can be a warning sign, pointing to an increased risk of sudden death. It’s critical that patients receive a proper diagnosis and prevention techniques.

Luckily, the most common cause of recurrent fainting is also one of the most benign. Vasovagal syncope, also called reflex syncope, occurs when the blood vessels open wide (vasodilation) and blood pressure drops (hypotension) at the same time as the heart rate slows down (bradycardia). This can lead to a temporary loss of consciousness, with not enough blood reaching the brain.

Read the rest of this article in the December 2020 edition of Medical Technology

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