Falls and Fainting
UW Health's Faint and Fall Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin draws on the combined expertise of specialists in cardiovascular medicine, geriatrics and neurology.
Non-accidental falls are often the result of a combination of factors including cardiovascular disorders such as orthostatic hypotension and unspecified cardiac arrhythmias. The typical non-accidental fall patient is over the age of 55. Through evaluation and testing in the Faint and Fall Clinic, patients receive diagnosis and recommendations for treatment to avoid subsequent falls.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20–30 percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures or head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death. Often when people fall, they develop a fear of falling, even if they were not injured in the initial fall. Unfortunately, this fear can cause people to limit their activity, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness that in turn increases their future risk of falling.
Depending on the age of someone who faints and their circumstances, a fainting spell can be a warning sign for a serious medical condition. It’s important to seek medical help for proper evaluation and diagnosis to prevent future recurrences.
You should seek emergency medical attention immediately if you:
- Feel chest pain or shortness of breath before losing consciousness
- Feel like your heart is racing or beating unevenly (often called palpitations) before fainting
- Have weakness or numbness on one side of the face or body or develop speech problems
- Experience stroke symptoms
There are many reasons why patients faint, including cardiac, neurologic, metabolic and psychogenic causes.