Vaso-Vagal Discussion

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Vaso-vagal syncope

From: Rick
Date: 4/7/01
Time: 7:04:46 PM
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Hi. My wife (44, good health, lotsa water and exercise) had an episode of what has been dx'd as vss a week ago. Sounds pretty classic--She felt woozy, stood up, and about a minute later, passed out. Unfortunately, she hit her head on the way down and needed staples (she has an hx notable for L5-S1 laminectomy and a couple of c-spine compressions making the fall all the more worrisome, but there were no apparent injuries). After she came to, we helped her onto the couch--she had virtually no motor control--and she passed out again, this time for the better part of a minute (first time was 30-40 secs.) She was somewhat nauseous and didn't feel she could get to the car or tolerate the ride to the ER, so we had her transported. Her BP when the squad arrived was 95/60 or so. During the night we spent in the ER, her BP dropped to as low as 81/52--I found this quite distressing, but nobody else seemed to (I noted that the machine was set to alarm at 60/xx, so I assume they treat that as the threshold for concern). Our GP's partner told us we'd probably not ever know what the problem was--quite helpful, no?--but a cardiologist we really liked discussed VVS with us, and noted that Nancy's hx was significant for three prior syncopes over the past 20 years--two with extreme pain and one upon micturation--all of which, again, appears classic. All cardiac diagnostics show a strong, healthy heart (as I told them), so it pretty clearly seems to be neurally-mediated vvs.

Although I have not yet spent a lot of time on this board, it looks like our current concerns are not unusual: Why does her BP drop? What does salt do, other than help keep BP up--is there no treatment for the cause of VVS? What, for that matter, IS the cause--the cardiologist mentioned a hyperactive vagus nerve, but is there any knowledge re. what causes that hyperactivity, and/or whether it can be treated? Are there precursor sensations (for example, Nancy thinks she had felt "off" the whole day of her latest episode--is that consistent with others' experiences?) One more question: Nancy had extreme sensitivity to light after these events--is that usual? Same question re. the seeming lack of motor control after the episodes?

I'll keep reading, and will appreciate any thoughts any of you have. Thanks in advance!


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