Black out or the sudden loss of consciousness is one of the most alarming symptoms that send patient to seek help from the specialist. Such events often result in falls and fractures, the consequences can be devastating.
The loss of consciousness is usually attributed to either the heart or the brain.
Cardiac Syncope (loss of consciousness due to heart condition)
Our heart rate is closely regulated and automatically adjusts its speed to our physical activities. However, should the heart beat suddenly slow down or have a prolonged pause, the heart stops pumping for a few seconds and without blood supply to the head, this leads to transient dizziness or worse – black out.
Such abnormality is often seen in the more matured subject and those on certain medication that slow down the heart.
Patient with such complaint maybe asked to wear a heart monitor for a day or two to capture any abnormal heart rhythm disturbances.
Management varies from fine-tuning the current drug regime to implantation of a pacemaker to compensate for the slow or missing heartbeat.
Neurological cause of loss of consciousness
Brain problems like seizures and epilepsy may also present as black out. A carefully taken history with the patient and his or her companion may be very helpful in clarifying the nature of the problem.