We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
JAMA Patient Page |

Fainting FREE

Sharon Parmet, MS, Writer; Cassio Lynm, MA, Illustrator; Richard M. Glass, MD, Editor
JAMA. 2004;292(10):1260. doi:10.1001/jama.292.10.1260.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Fainting, also known by the medical term syncope, is the temporary loss of consciousness, often accompanied by falling down or a strong urge to lie down, followed by spontaneous recovery. The most common reason for fainting is a temporary decrease in blood flow to the brain. Except for the risk of physical injury from falling, fainting itself is often not a serious health problem. However, sometimes fainting can be a sign of a serious underlying disorder, so determining the cause is important. The September 8, 2004, issue of JAMA includes an article about fainting after exercise.


  • Emotional stress

  • Drop in blood pressure due to change in position or blood loss

  • Heat or dehydration

  • Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)

  • Heart abnormalities

  • An oversensitive region in an artery in the neck called the carotid artery

  • Blood clots in the lung


  • Warmth

  • Nausea

  • Field of vision either whites out or blacks out

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness

  • Sweaty palms


A physical examination and a careful history of what happens just before and during fainting are very important in determining the cause. Individuals who faint often should be tested for abnormal heart rhythms using an electrocardiogram (ECG), a machine that records the electrical impulses of the heart. They generally should also be evaluated with an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) to see if there are abnormalities in the heart muscle or valves. In some cases, other tests may be performed, such as a Holter monitor (a 24-hour recording of the heart rhythm) or a tilt test, in which blood pressure and heart rate are measured while the person is lying down on a table and again after the patient stands up or the table is tilted upright.


Treatment for fainting depends on its underlying cause. If no serious cause is found, the only interventions that may be necessary are avoiding situations that lead to fainting and protection from injury from falling. If a more serious cause is found, treatment is directed at the responsible condition.



To find this and other JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com. A Patient Page on electrocardiograms was published in the April 23, 2003, issue.

Sources: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; American Heart Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. Any other print or online reproduction is subject to AMA approval. To purchase bulk reprints, call 718/946-7424.




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles

NYSORA Textbook of Regional Anesthesia and Acute Pain Management