Entries in Fainting (2)


What Astronauts Have Taught Doctors About Fainting

BananaStock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) -- Kathy Chandler is a chronic fainter, but NASA research on astronauts could provide clues to keeping her healthy.

“Astronauts are very prone to fainting, dizziness,” Dr. Fred Jaeger of the Cleveland Clinic told ABC News. “If you are in space you are not using all of your muscles, including your heart, because you don’t have gravity to fight. And so their heart size was decreasing.”

One such fainting attack struck astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn, who collapsed after returning from her first space mission.

The fainting and dizziness symptoms can be shared by patients like Chandler who have a condition called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome or POTS syndrome. POTS syndrome affects up to one million people, most of them women.

“The hallmark of POTS syndrome is the high heart rate,” said Jaeger. “The high heart rate can trigger fainting.”

Doctors try to keep patients with POTS healthy by adjusting their diets and helping them change how they sleep, but it is NASA researchers who came up with a tailored exercise program that is now being used not only on astronauts, but on patients with POTS.

The exercise program is intended to help the heart grow in some patients and in others to condition the heart muscle and prevent fainting.

“It involves exercises that avoid gravity,” Jaeger said. “And for the first time ever we actually have a way to turn around the person’s symptoms and actually cure them.”

For Chandler, the prescription is simple. She eats salty food to keep her blood pressure up, tilts her bed when she sleeps to keep her blood flowing, and she exercises on a recumbent bike.

“I actually bought a recumbent bike,” she said. “I will be using that more often now to build up my heart muscle. I want to be at my best.”

Chandler and some others are now free from fainting spells, thanks to a little help from “The Right Stuff.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fainting Can Indicate Deadly Heart Condition

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Fainting: It happens to 60 percent of all Americans at some point, and it has stricken many when the cameras rolled and the stage lights shined the brightest.

Akshay Buddiga hit the floor during the National Spelling Bee in 2004, Marie Osmond collapsed on Dancing with the Stars in 2007 and American Idol’s Symone Black fell off the stage during this season’s auditions.

“People faint when there’s a decreased blood flow to the brain,” Dr. Lawrence Phillips, an assistant professor of medicine at New York University, told ABC News. “It kind of occurs temporarily, and then they pass out and then the blood flow restores to the brain, which causes them to wake up.”

It is an occurrence so common that few seek medical attention.

“Everyone doesn’t have to be alarmed that there is a serious medical problem if they pass out. But it is important for the first time you pass out that you do have further evaluation,” Phillips said. “It’s important to try to get to the bottom of why people are fainting.”

Kristine Breese thought her occasional fainting was no big deal, but now the 47-year-old mother of two and marathon runner is speaking out as part of an international public awareness campaign to get more people to pay attention to what fainting can signal.

Experts say that 25 percent of the time, fainting can indicate a potentially deadly heart condition, a condition Breese had for years before it was finally diagnosed after she passed out at home in the presence of her sister-in-law.

“My skin was gray, and I was shaking....She was telling me that she had called 911. I said something like ‘I can’t go to the hospital; I’ve got to cook dinner,’” Breese told ABC News.

Instead, she was rushed to the hospital, where doctors referred her to specialists. While they were running tests, Breese went into cardiac arrest.

“My heart actually stopped, and the doctor had to resuscitate me,” she said.

Breese was diagnosed with cardiogenic syncope, or an irregular heartbeat.

“The great news was that they knew exactly what to do and that would be for me to get a pacemaker,” Breese said. “I didn’t think I could be someone with a heart condition....What I learned through this whole experience [was] to take symptoms seriously and to take myself seriously.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio