Charlie, an 84-year-old man, sat in his armchair watching his favorite team play football. During a break in the action, he got up to use the bathroom and collapsed on the floor. His family called 9-1-1 and he was rushed to the hospital. The emergency room doctors checked him out and determined that he had experienced vasovagal syncope, a common symptom that almost everyone experiences at least once in their lives.
What is Vasovagal Syncope?
In simple terms, vasovagal syncope is fainting. It is the number one cause of loss of consciousness. When a person faints, the blood vessels in the legs dilate rapidly, which causes the blood to pool there, rather than circulating through the body. This causes the blood pressure to drop and makes a person lose consciousness.
Usually, vasovagal syncope is nothing to worry about, except that a senior may injure themselves in a fall during an episode. However, if the episodes are recurring, there may be an underlying cause that is more serious, such as a heart condition. It’s best to report any fainting spells to a doctor to determine if testing is needed.
What Causes Vasovagal Syncope?
Vasovagal syncope can be caused by a number of things, some of them very minor, but some of them serious. The Mayo Clinic states that it is caused by the body’s overreaction to things like severe emotional upset or seeing blood. It may also be caused by:
- Getting overheated.
- Sweating heavily.
- The pooling of blood in the legs during a sudden change in position.
- Heart conditions, like bradycardia or tachycardia.
- Blocked flow of blood.
Can Vasovagal Syncope Be Avoided?
It’s probably not possible to prevent every fainting spell, but there are some things that can be done. One of the key ways to avoid fainting is to prevent dehydration, which can make a person more prone. A senior care provider can help with this by ensuring your older adult family member drinks plenty of fluids throughout the day. Another way that senior care providers can assist with preventing vasovagal syncope is by helping older adults to stay cool so that they do not get overheated. Senior care providers can make sure the air conditioning is turned on, set up fans, and open windows. If the home does not have air conditioning, a senior care provider can drive your family member to somewhere that does, such as the library, local senior center, or a friend’s home.
The staff at Home Care Matters is available to talk with you and your family about all of your needs. Home Care Matters is a home care agency providing quality and affordable senior care in Oakwood, GA and the surrounding areas. Call (678) 828-2195 for more information.
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