Vaso-Vagal Discussion

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Vaso Vagal Response is annoying and embarrasing

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From: Julie Rossi


This whole vasovagal reflex thing (as I like to call it) started about 4 years ago while I was working as an Exercise Physiologist at a hospital. A young patient of mine was simply describing her surgical experience with in regards to her pacemaker implantation. Well, at 30, this poor girl had definitely been through the ringer. She was very thorough and explained everything in minute detail. Suddenly, I began feeling strange; feelings of dizziness, buzzing in my ears, extreme sweat coming over me. I immediately had to excuse myself and I headed to the nearest ladies bathroom. Well, before I could even turn the lights on in the one room stall, I passed out. Only to awaken a few minutes later in complete darkness and having very little recollection as to where I was and what had happened. I awakened on the floor and with a huge ache on the back of my head, apparently when I had collapsed, I had bumped my head on the porcelain sink that was behind me.

Anyway, I quickly got myself together (I was still in a hospital and had anyone found me they would have made a huge deal of this situation), I quickly went back to my office. Later on, I told my director (a dear friend and mentor of mine). He, having a PhD in physiology told me exactly what I had experienced, a vasovagal response to personifying emotions that my patient was telling me. It was unbelievable, just from words I had passed out.

I didn't think much of this occurence until I once again had the same thing happen to me at my vets office when they were taking blood out of my dog, then when my dad has surgery, and again when I was at my vets office with my other dog, and when I was at my gynocologists office as he was simply explaining certain procedures to me. Then again, this happened to me last night, when I visited my sick cancer-stricken aunt at the hospital.

Well, I am now 29 years old, female and I am a physician assistant student. I have worked with a surgeon for a year in removing cancer dermatologically and never did that cause any problems whatsoever. I have seen autopsies, and have even had to suture arms up. No problems. It is only at certain times and in certain instances (especially with loved ones) that I get this VV response. I sought out medical treatment once only to have a Holter monitor, resting and exercise EKG, and an echocardiogram performed on me at age 25, with no avail to any of these things---all came back normal. And why wouldn't they for gods sake, I am 25 years old, I am a very active person, I exercise and keep a very healthy diet. Yet, somehow, at certain times, this feeling comes about me where I have to lay down because otherwise I will faint in front of my family, gynocologist, or patient. I refuse to be put on beta-blockers, those things dont work for VV response. The only thing that seems to work is lying down or sitting down, breathing deeply and talking yourself out of your dellusion of your disorder. Yep, dellusion, because I feel like this is simply a psychological phenomenon that takes over the autonomic system. The emotional thoughts that stream through my consciousness target certain areas of my cerebrum and completely take toll on the rest of my receptors, only to vasodilate my blood vessels to the point where there is so much blood pooling nothing is sent back to my brain (i.e. fainting). I very well may have to live with this phenomenon, and while they say it's a rare disorder that only about 10% of the population have, why should I have to have this. I have no time for this little reflex thing to take over me, so all I can do at this point is hope for the best. Hoping that this feeling doesnt come over me again when I have to put in a catheter or suture someone's arm up.

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