Syncope: diagnosis and management

Curr Probl Cardiol. 2015 Feb;40(2):51-86. doi: 10.1016/j.cpcardiol.2014.11.001. Epub 2014 Nov 15.


Syncope is defined as transient loss of consciousness due to global cerebral hypoperfusion. It is characterized by having a relatively rapid onset, brief duration with spontaneous and full recovery. The major challenge in the evaluation of patients with syncope is that most patients are asymptomatic at the time of their presentation. A thorough history and physical examination including orthostatic assessment are crucial for making the diagnosis. After initial evaluation, short-term risk assessment should be performed to determine the need for admission. If the short-term risk is high, inpatient evaluation is needed. If the short-term risk is low, outpatient evaluation is recommended. In patients with suspected cardiac syncope, monitoring is indicated until a diagnosis is made. In patients with suspected reflex syncope or orthostatic hypotension, outpatient evaluation with tilt-table testing is appropriate. Syncope units have been shown to improve the rate of diagnosis while reducing cost and thus are highly recommended.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Syncope / diagnosis*
  • Syncope / epidemiology
  • Syncope / physiopathology
  • Syncope / therapy*
  • Tilt-Table Test
  • Treatment Outcome