A Population-Based Study of Syncope in the Young

Can J Cardiol. 2018 Feb;34(2):195-201. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2017.12.006. Epub 2017 Dec 11.


Background: The prevalence, hospitalization patterns, and outcomes of pediatric and adolescent syncope have not been rigorously characterized.

Methods: Patients < 20 years presenting to an emergency department (ED) with a primary diagnosis of syncope (International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision, code R55) between fiscal year (FY) 2006/2007 and FY 2013/2014 in the province of Alberta, Canada were grouped according to discharge status from the ED, ie, (1) admitted to hospital and (2) discharged without admission. Temporal trends and differences in baseline characteristics, medication use, and outcomes between admitted and discharged patients were examined.

Results: The prevalence of syncope increased from 143/100,000 population in FY 2006/2007 to 166/100,000 population in FY 2013/2014 (P < 0.01). The majority of the 11,488 patients who presented to the ED with syncope were discharged home (n = 11,214 [98%]). Cardiac disease was present in 12.7% and thoracic conditions were present in 8% of the study population. A majority of patients (66.2% admitted and 56.4% discharged; P = 0.018) were taking a prescription drug in the year before presentation. By 30 days, 26.1% of admitted patients had a second ED presentation and 8.1% had a rehospitalization. Among discharged patients, the 30-day repeated ED presentation rate was 11.7% and the hospitalization rate was 1.1%. By 1 year, the rates of repeated ED visits increased to 64.1% and 47.5%, and rehospitalization rates increased to 21.4% and 6.8% among admitted and discharged patients, respectively.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that pediatric and adolescent syncope is increasing in prevalence and represents a growing public health problem. This population has a high burden of comorbidities that likely contribute to increased health care resource use and polypharmacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Databases, Factual
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Syncope / epidemiology*