Recurrent syncope is not an independent risk predictor for future syncopal events or adverse outcomes

Am J Emerg Med. 2019 May;37(5):869-872. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2018.08.004. Epub 2018 Aug 24.


Almost 20% of patients with syncope will experience another event. It is unknown whether recurrent syncope is a marker for a higher or lower risk etiology of syncope. The goal of this study is to determine whether older adults with recurrent syncope have a higher likelihood of 30-day serious clinical events than patients experiencing their first episode.

Methods: This study is a pre-specified secondary analysis of a multicenter prospective, observational study conducted at 11 emergency departments in the US. Adults 60 years or older who presented with syncope or near syncope were enrolled. The primary outcome was occurrence of 30-day serious outcome. The secondary outcome was 30-day serious cardiac arrhythmia. In multivariate analysis, we assessed whether prior syncope was an independent predictor of 30-day serious events.

Results: The study cohort included 3580 patients: 1281 (35.8%) had prior syncope and 2299 (64.2%) were presenting with first episode of syncope. 498 (13.9%) patients had 1 prior episode while 771 (21.5%) had >1 prior episode. Those with recurrent syncope were more likely to have congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, previous diagnosis of arrhythmia, and an abnormal ECG. Overall, 657 (18.4%) of the cohort had a serious outcome by 30 days after index ED visit. In multivariate analysis, we found no significant difference in risk of events (adjusted odds ratio 1.09; 95% confidence interval 0.90-1.31; p = 0.387).

Conclusion: In older adults with syncope, a prior history of syncope within the year does not increase the risk for serious 30-day events.

Trial registration: NCT01802398.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Syncope / diagnosis*
  • Syncope / epidemiology

Associated data