Fainting spells often tied to too many meds at once, study says

Fainting spells often tied to too many meds at once: study
Doctors usually work with patients to spread dosing out, to avoid such problems.

(HealthDay)—Taking too many medications at the same time could lead to repeated fainting episodes, a new study reveals.

"Simply stated, the more antihypertensive pills a patient takes, the greater the likelihood of a possible fainting spell under certain circumstances," explained one cardiologist, Dr. David Friedman, chief of Services at North Shore-LIJ's Plainview Hospital in Plainview, N.Y. He was not involved in the new research.

In the study, Danish researchers led by Dr. Martin Ruwald of Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte looked at more than 127,000 patients, median age 64, who were hospitalized for fainting between 1997 and 2009.

Of those patients, more than one-fifth had experienced at least two fainting episodes.

The researchers found that the risk of repeat fainting rose with the number of medications that patients were taking at the same time. For example, compared with people who took no medications, recurrent fainting was 16 percent more likely for those taking one drug; 20 percent more likely for those taking two drugs; and 32 percent more likely for those taking three or more drugs, the team reported.

Ruwald's team focused on drugs known to cause a sudden drop in blood pressure when a person stands up after lying down. These drugs included widely used types of such as alpha blockers, , diuretics, and .

The study was to be presented in Los Angeles on Sunday at the annual meeting of the .

Friedman said fainting, which doctors call "syncope," isn't uncommon among .

"In my practice, patients who have demonstrated recurrent syncope or near syncope while on several blood pressure pills for various multiple health-related reasons, benefit from medication dose adjustments on a variable schedule or staggering pills at different hours along the day as needed," he said. Often, detailed discussions with patients or their caregivers allow them to adjust dosing schedules on their own based on blood pressure readings or other medical factors, Friedman added.

"I find these measures help patients adhere to potentially difficult medication regimens, maximize drug optimization, and minimize the chances of dizziness, lightheadedness, or overt passing out spells," he said.

Findings presented at medical meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information: The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about fainting.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pacemaker prevents fainting among select patient population

Mar 26, 2012

A select number of patients who suffer from neurally mediated synope (NMS) – a disorder in which the brain fails to regulate heart rate and blood pressure – may be good candidates to receive a dual-chamber pacemaker ...

Study shows fainting factor in cardiac arrests

Feb 09, 2012

A new study by Dr. Andrew Krahn shows that over a quarter of unexplained cardiac arrests occurred after the patient had an event of fainting, known as syncope. According to Dr. Krahn, a Cardiologist at London Health Sciences ...

Fainting: All in the family?

Aug 06, 2012

Fainting has a strong genetic predisposition, according to new research published in the August 7, 2012, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Fainting, also called vasovagal syncop ...

High blood pressure pill cuts risk of Parkinson's disease

Feb 06, 2008

People taking a widely used group of drugs known as calcium channel blockers to treat high blood pressure also appear to be cutting their risk of Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published in the February 6, 2008, ...

Recommended for you

FDA OKs Cubist antibiotic for serious infections

Dec 20, 2014

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new medicine to fight complex infections in the abdomen and urinary tract, the fourth antibiotic the agency has approved since May.

Xtoro approved for swimmer's ear

Dec 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—Xtoro (finafloxacin otic suspension) eardrops have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat swimmer's ear, clinically known as acute otitis externa.

Drug interaction identified for ondansetron, tramadol

Dec 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—In the early postoperative period, ondansetron is associated with increased requirements for tramadol consumption, according to a review and meta-analysis published online Dec. 10 in Anaesthesia.

New system targets germs in donated blood plasma

Dec 17, 2014

(HealthDay)—A new system designed to eliminate germs in donated blood plasma and reduce the risk of transmitting a plasma-borne infection has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.