What is syncope?

Syncope is a sudden, short-term loss of consciousness. Syncope is usually the result of a drop in blood pressure. Blood pressure is controlled by an automatic, involuntary function of the heart or autonomic nervous system. Although syncope is a common problem, it is tough to identify and treat.

There are multiple causes of syncope. Patients with syncope could have symptoms including rapid and/or irregular heart rhythms. It might be ergonomic, where the nervous system acts abnormally in controlling blood pressure and heart rate.

The cardiac electrophysiologists at Kansas City Heart Rhythm Institute offer a syncope clinic that provides a comprehensive approach and special testing of the autonomic nervous system to identify the root cause of syncope.

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Symptoms of Syncope

Patients with syncope could have symptoms including rapid and/or irregular heart rhythms and experience fainting.

  • Recurrent fainting episodes
  • Fainting along with a personal or family history indicative of a cardiac cause
  • Sustaining an injury or are at risk of sustaining injury due to fainting
  • A fainting episode at the wheel of a car
  • Fainting with features suggestive of carotid hypersensitivity, i.e. head-turning/neck pressure
  • Fainting with abnormal cardiovascular examination, i.e. a murmur
  • Fainting with abnormal electrocardiogram (ECG)


Our electrophysiologists continuously seek the latest clinical advancements for accurately identifying the cause of and treatments for syncope. One method used is autonomic reflex testing, where we assess autonomic nervous system testing via a series of stimuli to monitor blood pressure, blood flow, heart rate, skin temperature, and sweating to determine the cause of syncope. Additional EP testing may include electrophysiology studies, neurological evaluation, a computed tomography (CT) scan, and vestibular function testing.

Treatment Options

Your physician will discuss treatment options with you and help to determine the best approach.

Treatment options for syncope may include lifestyle changes, medication, and sometimes surgery. Electrophysiology procedures may include cardiac pacing, implantable devices, and catheter ablation