Epidemiology of syncope/collapse in younger and older Western patient populations

Prog Cardiovasc Dis. Jan-Feb 2013;55(4):357-63. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2012.11.006.


Syncope is a common problem which can be remarkably debilitating and associated with high health care costs; its true incidence is difficult to estimate due to variation in definition, differences in population prevalence and under reporting in the general population. The median peak of first syncope is around 15 years with a sharp increase after 70 years. Vasovagal syncope is the commonest cause of syncope for all age groups, but cardiac causes become more common with advancing age. The cumulative incidence of syncope ranges from 5% in females aged 20 to 29, up to 50% in females aged 80 and above. One-third of medical students report at least one syncopal episode in their life-time. The life-time cumulative incidence of syncope in women is almost twice that of men. Syncope accounts for up to 1-3% of hospital admissions and Emergency Room (ER) visits and in these settings is associated with cardiovascular co-morbidity and cardiovascular pharmacotherapy. In older adults syncope is a major cause of morbidity and mortality with enormous personal and wider health economic costs. Prevalence and incidence figures for syncope in older adults are confounded by an overlap with presentations classified as falls. In addition to injury and increasing dependency, quality-of-life studies consistently show that functional impairment in persons with recurrent syncope is similar to other chronic diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Agents / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Cost of Illness
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Syncope / diagnosis
  • Syncope / epidemiology*
  • Syncope / physiopathology
  • Syncope / psychology
  • Syncope / therapy
  • Young Adult


  • Cardiovascular Agents