Cardiac and Vascular Causes of Syncope and Atherosclerosis

Curr Cardiol Rep. 2022 Oct;24(10):1241-1249. doi: 10.1007/s11886-022-01757-7. Epub 2022 Aug 1.


Purpose of review: Among the most common causes of cardiac syncope are arrhythmias and ischemic heart disease, both of which can coexist. The purpose of this review is to discuss the main causes of cardiac and vascular syncope related to atherosclerosis, its epidemiological and clinical aspects, warning signs, and initial approach.

Recent findings: Cardiac syncope may have a frequency of up to 34% in elderly people. Atherosclerosis-related causes of cardiac and vascular syncope may be due to cardiac arrhythmia and/or structural impairment of the heart or arteries. Late ventricular tachycardia and late-onset high-grade atrioventricular block associated with myocardial ischemia may occur with syncope, which is related to higher mortality. Besides ventricular dysfunction, concentric remodeling is also a prognostic factor. In calcific degenerative aortic stenosis, syncope carries a worse prognosis than the other cardinal signs. Cardiac syncope has a high recurrence and mortality rate. There are red flag alerts that must be considered in risk stratification.

Keywords: Aortic stenosis; Atherosclerosis; Cardiovascular disease; Cerebrovascular disease; Subclavian steal syndrome; Syncope.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aortic Valve / pathology
  • Aortic Valve Stenosis
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / complications
  • Atherosclerosis* / complications
  • Calcinosis
  • Heart
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Ischemia* / complications
  • Syncope / diagnosis
  • Syncope / etiology
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular*

Supplementary concepts

  • Aortic Valve, Calcification of