Canadian Cardiovascular Society and Canadian Pediatric Cardiology Association Position Statement on the Approach to Syncope in the Pediatric Patient

Can J Cardiol. 2017 Feb;33(2):189-198. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2016.09.006. Epub 2016 Oct 3.


Pediatric syncope is a common problem that peaks in adolescence, for which there are few data or evidence-based consensus on investigation and management. This document offers guidance for practical evaluation/management of pediatric patients (age < 19 years) with syncope encountered in the acute or primary care setting. The writing committee used the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) methodology. Most syncope is vasovagal, which is benign and does not require extensive investigation. This Position Statement presents recommendations to encourage an efficient and cost-effective disposition for the many patients with a benign cause of syncope, and highlights atypical or concerning clinical findings associated with other causes of transient loss of consciousness. The prodrome and the circumstances around which the event occurred are the most important aspects of the history. Syncope occurring midexertion suggests a cardiac etiology. A family history, which includes sudden death in the young or from unknown causes or causes that might be suspected to be other than natural can be a red flag. The electrocardiogram is the most frequently ordered test, but the yield is low and the test is not cost-effective when applied broadly to a population of patients with syncope. We recommend an electrocardiogram when the history is not suggestive of vasovagal syncope and there are features suggestive of a cardiac cause like absence of a prodrome, midexertional event, family history of early-life sudden death or heart disease, abnormal physical examination, or new medication with potential cardiotoxicity. For most patients with syncope, medical testing is not required and lifestyle modifications without medications suffice to prevent recurrences.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Cardiology*
  • Child
  • Consensus*
  • Disease Management*
  • Humans
  • Societies, Medical*
  • Syncope / therapy*