Vasovagal syncope in the older person: differences in presentation between older and younger patients

Gordon W Duncan, Maw Pin Tan, Julia L Newton, Pamela Reeve, Steve W Parry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: vasovagal syncope (VVS) has been diagnosed with increasing frequency in older people since the description of the head-up tilt table test (HUTT). There is, however, a paucity of research describing the clinical features of VVS in this group. To address this issue, we investigated the age distribution and differences in clinical characteristics associated with age in patients diagnosed with VVS by HUTT at our tertiary referral centre.

METHODS: 1,060 consecutive patients with tilt-positive VVS were identified from a prospective database containing the demographic and clinical information of individuals assessed in our unit over a 10-year period. VVS was diagnosed with appropriate haemodynamic changes during HUTT and accompanying symptom reproduction.

RESULTS: we found a bimodal age distribution with a small peak at 20-29 years and a larger peak at 70-79 years. Patients aged > or =60 years were less likely to report total loss of consciousness [odds ratio (OR) 0.50, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.38-0.64], near loss of consciousness (OR 0.53, 95% CI = 0.40-0.70) or palpitations (OR 0.45, 95% CI = 0.28-0.72) and more likely to present with unexplained falls (OR 2.33, 95% CI = 1.36-4.32). The typical provoking factors of prolonged standing (OR 0.55, 95% CI = 0.40-0.72), posture change (OR 0.61, 95% CI = 0.46-0.82) and hot environments (OR 0.57, 95% CI = 0.42-0.78) were also less common in older patients.

CONCLUSION: in our large study population, VVS was more common in older patients. The clinical presentation differed significantly between the two groups. Older patients were less likely to give a typical history and therefore clinicians need to have a high index of suspicion when evaluating the older patient presenting with collapse or unexplained falls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-70
Number of pages6
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Posture
  • Prospective Studies
  • Syncope, Vasovagal
  • Tilt-Table Test
  • Unconsciousness
  • Young Adult


Dive into the research topics of 'Vasovagal syncope in the older person: differences in presentation between older and younger patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this