Vol 21, No 6 (2014)
Review Article
Published online: 2014-12-18

open access

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Is syncope a risk predictor in the general population?

Martin H. Ruwald, Louise R. Olde Nordkamp
DOI: 10.5603/CJ.a2014.0073
Cardiol J 2014;21(6):631-636.


Syncope in the general population is a frequent event often leading to hospitalization, but it is unclear whether syncope in the general population is an independent risk marker for adverse prognosis. In this review, we investigate the current literature and evaluate the prognosis and impact of syncope on adverse outcomes including death and recurrences across different populations with focus on the general population. In wide terms, a syncopal event is related to a higher risk of subsequent falls and injury and cardiac syncope is particularly associated with increased mortality as compared to non-cardiac syncope. The overall prognosis in the general population is by large determined by the underlying presence and severity of a given cardiac disease, but a given underlying cardiac disease can very well be unknown at the time of first syncope so that syncope is the presenting symptom resulting in an independent risk increase. Moreover, syncope is a significant risk predictor of a recurrence across populations. It is im­portant to recognize several risk factors associated with adverse outcome in order to safely navigate in a population where most patients with syncope are healthy and low-risk but where a small number of patients have life-threatening conditions. Further research in the general population should attempt to categorize which patients with syncope need immediate referral and diagnostic testing, and whether this affects the outcome.