Carotid sinus syndrome (CSS) and neurocardiogenic syncope (NCS) are recognised as important causes of recurrent syncope and falls in the elderly. In this study the role of CSS (diagnosed with carotid sinus massage) and NCS (diagnosed with prolonged head-up tilt) in a district general hospital were investigated.
Over 27 consecutive months carotid sinus massage was performed in 139 patients. Of these 29 (20.8%) patients (mean (SD) age of 78 (9) years) showed a positive response. Of these 18 (62%) patients showed a positive response only when carotid sinus massage was performed with 70° head-up tilt.
Thirteen (8.7%) of the 149 patients who had prolonged head-up tilt testing were found to have NCS. The mean (SD) age for patients with NCS was 59 (26) years and the mean (SD) time required to produce a positive response during prolonged head-up tilt was 12 (5) minutes.
It is concluded that carotid sinus massage and head-up tilt testing are useful in patients presenting with unexplained syncope and falls in a district general hospital setting. Carotid sinus massage should be repeated upon head-up tilt if a negative response is obtained in the supine position.
- carotid sinus syndrome
- neurocardiogenic syncope
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