Vaso-Vagal Discussion

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VVS and Anxiety seem to go together (a history)

From: Al


I think VVS can cause anxiety disorder, and then anxiety disorder can exacerbate any tendency toward VVS.


1955 (Age 13) Fainted after falling hard off a playground equipment.

1962 (Age 20) Fainted on my feet leaving a blood donation center in college.

1970 (Age 28) Fainted in dentist chair after novocain shot on ship in Navy.

1985 (Age 43) Fainted on my feet in doctor's reception area after removal of mole from back. Nurse said when I was coming to, it looked like a seizure. Doctor had EEG done, which was OK.

1987 (Age 45) Fainted on my feet after getting up in the night to go to bathroom.

1991 (Age 49) Fainted on my feet from pain of a leg cramp, after getting up in night too slowly to work out the cramp. Wife called EMS, I went to ER, doctor came, said it was probably vagus nerve reflex, nothing to be done.

1991 (Age 49) Almost fainted from running an electric drill into finger. Knew a faint was coming, lay down with feet up against a wall, and fought it off. Fighting it off caused sweating.

1992 (Age 50) Fainted on my feet after doing a headstand and then quickly standing up. Broke my hand in the fall. Came to, sat down, and slowly fainted again from the hand injury, which did not actually hurt that much.

2001 (Age 59) Threw off bedcovers to stand up for a leg cramp at night. Had shoulder tendonitis at the time and this action caused intense shoulder pain which provoked the fainting reflex. I lay down and had a sweaty fight against waves of blacking out that lasted a couple of minutes.

2002 (Age 60) Found description of vaso-vagal syncope on the Internet.

2004 No further occurrences, but I expect it could happen the next time there is enough pain stimulus to trigger it. Leg cramps at night are the biggest unavoidable danger. I have had numerous shots and blood drawings OK. My dentist uses a painless computer-driven novocain pumping needle which is OK.

ANXIETY ATTACKS (feelings of fainting, seem to be related to the vaso-vagal syncope)

1992 (Age 50) Had first anxiety attack (feeling and fear of fainting) while walking to restaurant for office lunch. I think this developed because I had done recently done a double faint, remembered the feeling of blacking out slowly, and I feared fainting on my feet and falling.

1992 (Age 50) Several mild anxiety episodes occured (feelings and fear of fainting).

1993 (Age 51) Doctor prescribed 25mg Tenormin, a blood pressure medication. There were no fainting or anxiety for almost a year.

Dec 1993 Anxiety about fainting while waiting in a long store line. Mild anxiety feelings then resumed every few days.

Jan 1994 (Age 52) Felt anxious all morning. Tried to drive to a course in Huntsville AL, became dubious about ability to drive and spend the week there. Increasing feelings of anxiety and faintness made me afraid to drive, and after 30 miles I turned around and went home.

Jan 1994 Doctor prescribed 50mg Temormin, but I suspected it was not directly dealing with the anxiety and I wasn’t sure I needed it, so I stayed on 25mg.

Jan 1994 Incapacitated by anxiety attack after night meeting of a recreational club, afraid to drive home for fear of fainting, the feeling did not go away after 1/2 hour reclined in car. Asked someone to call EMS, felt better immediately, EMS found nothing physically wrong. Relative took me home. Went to ER next day, wore a Holter heart monitor for a day, nothing wrong.

Feb 1994 Doctor said take the 50mg Tenormin, diagnosed problem as anxiety attacks.

Feb 1994 Anxiety attack on bus, had to get off and walk to make them go away.

Feb 1994 Doctor changed prescription to 75mg Imipramine (Tofranil) and referred me to a psychiatric clinic for a March appointment.

March 1994 Medication seemed to work well. Began cognitive therapy at clinic.

April 1994 Completed therapy.

Nov 1994 Tapered off imipramine and quit.

Oct 1995 Felt anxiety attacks, started 25mg imipramine.

Dec 1995 Quit imipramine.

Nov 1996 Mild anxiety attack lasting for 2 hours in meeting at work, others over the next few days. Started 25mg imipramine, made appointment at clinic, they said OK to keep taking it.

Jan 1997 Quit imipramine.

2003 No further actual anxiety attacks or fainting episodes. I have felt the pre-symtpoms of a anxiety/fainting attack a couple of times during an exercise class in which a lot of lunges tired my thighs. Symptoms were a feeling that I might faint and a flush of sweating feet. I remained standing but slowed way down and tried to ignore the thoughts, and feelings went away.

2003 Was concerned that I did not feel comfortable exercising to a high heart rate - a pulse rate over 100 felt like the beginnings of an anxiety attack or fainting. I requested a cardiolite stress test and passed it without provoking a vaso-vagal reaction. Heart rate was taken to 140 I think.

2004 (Age 62) Can still provoke pre-symtpoms of anxiety/fainting by doing hard lunging exercises which "burn" the thigh muscles. I think it would provoke vaso-vagal syncope if I persisted.

This web site is not a substitute for a thorough medical evaluation and diagnosis of your vaso-vagal type symptoms.  Medical treatment and diagnosis is the only acceptable initial response to these serious symptoms since they might present from any number of life threatening and treatable illnesses. It is for you and your physician to rule out more serious illnesses; Please don't use this online forum as an alternative to getting responsible medical attention and being under the care of a physician for the duration of any unknown, suspected or dangerous vaso-vagal syndrome symptoms.
Last changed: June 22, 2007