Syncope is a common symptom among patients of all ages and ranges from a benign symptom to a warning of impending sudden cardiac death. Physicians should use a framework approach when investigating patients with syncope to ensure life-threatening causes are not missed.
- Syncope is a common presentation to GPs, emergency physicians and cardiologists and may be the presenting symptom in a patient at risk of sudden cardiac death.
- The most common causes of syncope are cardiac and neurocardiogenic syncope; neurological causes of syncope are rare.
- Patients with a history of cardiac disease or family history of sudden cardiac death are at particular risk of syncope.
- An ECG is essential in any patient presenting with syncope.
- Patients with an unexplained first episode of syncope or recurrent syncope should be referred to a cardiologist for further investigation.
- Driving restrictions exist following syncopal episodes and need to be enforced by GPs and specialists.