Vaso-Vagal Discussion

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Possible way to avoid fainting

From: S.
Date: 2/13/00
Time: 5:53:16 PM
Remote Name:


I have experienced infrequent V-V symptoms since childhood, generally in medical or physical trauma situations. In the last year I have experienced episodes of a new character, devoid of the usual triggers but instead associated with odd confusing deja vu-like sensation. Typically, my heart rate drops precipitously, leading to fainting. This recent change prompted renewed attempt to get medical opinion and help. So far Dr. has given me no solutions.

However, I recently stumbled upon material in a biology textbook that included a discussion of some of the heart's rate regulatory mechanisms, which has proved to be helpful. In particular, this discussion said that the heart is prompted to increase rate by an increase in the force exerted by blood returning to the heart from the venous system. This provides one mechanism for increasing heart rate as muscular activity increases, for example. I have begun to use this property to ward off loss of consciousness when VV strikes. I have found that strongly contracting my muscles does have an effect, presumably by forcing blood back to the heart, on heart rate and forcefulness of beats. When I feel an episode coming on, I strongly tighten muscles to counteract heart rate depression. I think this has worked on some of the few occasions I have had to try this so far.

I focus on the legs, reasoning that they hold the most blood, tightening calves, thighs, butt, arms, shoulders, torso within a second or two. If you try this now you may see that it has a dramatic effect on heart rate and forcefulness of beats.

I have found that my VV heart rate depression is so strong that I have difficulty overcoming it even with this approach, and have to repeat this muscle contraction 3 or 4 times a few seconds apart.

As I said, I believe I have had some success with this, remaining upright and conscious, whereas previously I would black out even if lying down.

I would like to eliminate these episodes completely, but this is a big step in reducing impact on my life.

Hope this is helpful to some others.

Re: vagal response to pain


Vaso Vagal attacks

From: Brian in the UK


Reading your comments about Vaso Vagel prompted me to tell of my experiences. I am 54 years old and in my lifetime have had about 15 'funny turns' which have recently been diagnosed as Vaso Vagel attacks. During last summer (2002) I was rushed into hospital with a suspected heart attack but found it was a total false alarm. I have never had a heart attack and I dont have Angina. My GP says that there is nothing to be done and has not pescribed any medicines at all.

What do I do? Just wait until the next attack. I would be most pleased to hear from anyone especially in the UK who can help. Please email me at

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