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Definition of Syncope

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  • Definition of Syncope

    The literature states that syncope is a possible symptom of HCM, and is classically defined as loss of consciousness. Has anyone heard of, or expierenced, a variant of syncope that involves temporary loss of visual accuity--that is, a temporary loss of perhipheral vision or other visual disturbance, sometimes followed by headaches. My doc finds this situation interesting, but thinks it is soley stress related.
    Jall

    Diagnosed with unobstructed HCM in 2004 after a bad experience playing tennis
    Graduated to obstructed HCM by Dec, 2008.

    Life outside of HCM: Law, Photography, Tennis, Music, raising kids and camping

  • #2
    Re: Definition of Syncope

    It sounds like Painless migrains to me. I had them in spells for years and only sometimes did I end up with a headache afterwards. Seeing narrowed tunnels or spinning lights or floaters are all signs of a migrain.
    NEMC's (Boston) First Myectomy 7-22-2003

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    • #3
      Re: Definition of Syncope

      I agree. This does sound most like migraines, which I first had at age 10 and have had with varying amounts of frequency since then. (Few now, thankfully!) However, there is another possibility that I would check out as well. Severe blood pressure drop, which is thought by some docs to be the cause of syncope in HCM patients, can cause a loss in peripheral vision. I had this type once when I ate a nut I was severely allergic to. The headache afterward makes me lean more toward the migraine idea, however.

      BTW, as I understand it, migraines are not primarily stress related, although stress can make them worse.

      Rhoda

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      • #4
        Re: Definition of Syncope

        Hi,
        As a teenager I used to work a 37.5 hour week, commute three hours a day on the subway and busses plus go to school three hours a night, five days a week – plus all the homework that entailed. (I even learned to catch a nap standing in a subway car holding onto a pole, and to take lecture notes while sound asleep – but I had to transcribe them within two weeks or I could no longer read them.)

        Anyway, once in a while I would lose peripheral vision, “get tunnel vision” like just before passing out. I must have turned very pale also, because whenever it happened someone always got up and helped me into their seat. Luckily, I never passed out and fell to the floor. In the gruff, rough and tumble of New York commuting I always seemed to find a helping hand when I needed one. (And they say that New Yorkers are cold – fie on them.)

        I also had migraines from time to time during those years, but I never associated the tunnel vision with anything other then the first part of passing out. I don’t for a minute doubt what was posted here, I just never associated the two before.

        Your doctor might well be right, or it may be a symptom of migraine, or it might be a quick drop in pressure bringing you to the brink of passing out. You might try eliminating one thing at a time to see if there is an effect on this situation – like extra sleep, periods of controlled relaxation, etc. If you can find a link, you might be able to eliminate the problem once and for all. Good luck in your quest.
        Burt

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        • #5
          Re: Definition of Syncope

          I experienced a lot of near-syncope with my HOCM before getting appropriately medicated. None of these episodes were followed by headaches. Of course, this may or may not have any relevance to what is happening to you.

          Sue

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          • #6
            Re: Definition of Syncope

            Very interesting that this is not uncommon.

            Shortly before I landed in the hospital this spring with CHF- probably the week before - I was experiencing "floaters" and short episodes of "tunnel vision." I mentioned it to my PCP the day he sent me to the hospital. He thought that it would be a good idea to visit an ophthalmologist - perhaps because of an impending detached retina.

            This was all put aside because of the cardiac events that followed. It never occured before and hasn't happened since.

            Wonder if it is cardiac related???
            • 1995: Brigham & Women’s Hospital - diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation
            • 2004: Falkner Hospital – diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure
            • 2004: Tufts NEMC– diagnosed with “End Stage” Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
            • 2005: Genetic Test – Laboratory for Molecular Medicine. HCM confirmed – missense mutation detected in TNNT2 gene
            • 2009: Brigham & Women’s - Third cardioversion begin Amiodarone for AFib
            • 2011: Brigham & Women’s - Medtronic ICD implant

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            • #7
              Re: Definition of Syncope

              I've had experiences very similar to yours, which I know to be cardiac and not migraine. I know this because I can feel my heart seem to "go blank" in my chest. Then my world starts to dim....just sort of gets grayer and grayer. So far I have never actually passed out from this (except I guess the 2 times on my bike when I went into v-fib). Usually when the episode ends, I don't have a lasting headache, but sometimes I do. I have always attributed this to a temporary lack of oxygen to my brain, but this may be a total fantasy on my part. I didn't even know what syncope was until I found this website a few days ago. It has been HUGELY informative, far above what any doc I have seen over the past 18 years has been, due to their time constraints and often lack of knowledge on HCM. So thanks members!

              Heather
              Heather V.

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              • #8
                Re: Definition of Syncope

                Jall,

                I am not sure if it is the same but I experience that narrowing of vision when I feel like I will pass out. Fortunately it does not happen too often. I do not really get a head ache after but I get prickling and a little twitchy in my face and head following these episodes. I realized the other day that they are the very same sensations that occur when I have a sudden rush of adrenalin as well and I often feel that I will pass out when this occurs.

                I had read your post and then went to my neurologists appointment. When I was driving back home it happened because I was rear-ended by another car. Sitting there those same things occured and I made the comparison to the syncope episodes. Syncope for me usually occurs as related to sudden demand on my heart for any given reason. As long as I take care it usually fades back to full capacity. Now this accident resulted in the same increase in demand on my heart resulting in similar response. I believe there is definitely a tie in there.

                Pam
                Dx @ 47 with HOCM & HF:11/00
                Guidant ICD:Mar.01, Recalled/replaced:6/05 w/ Medtronic device
                Lead failure,replaced 12/06.
                SF lead recall:07,extracted leads and new device 2012
                [email protected] Tufts, Boston:10/5/03; age 50. ( [email protected] 240 mmHg ++)
                Paroxysmal A-Fib: 06-07,2010 controlled w/sotalol dosing
                Genetic mutation 4/09, mother(d), brother, son, gene+
                Mother of 3, grandma of 3:Tim,27,Sarah,33w/6 y/o old Sophia, 5 y/o Jack, Laura 34, w/ 5 y/o old Benjamin

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                • #9
                  Re: Definition of Syncope

                  Thanks for all the replies. I think the "painless migraine" comments hit the nail on the head. A google search of those terms yields a number of links describing exactly what I have expierenced. It is most helpful to have a concerned and knowledgeable community of persons to bounce issues off of.
                  Jall

                  Diagnosed with unobstructed HCM in 2004 after a bad experience playing tennis
                  Graduated to obstructed HCM by Dec, 2008.

                  Life outside of HCM: Law, Photography, Tennis, Music, raising kids and camping

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                  • #10
                    Re: Definition of Syncope

                    Migraines and HCM have been found together in many, many people. No explanation yet.

                    What you described sounds exactly like migraines. I've had many. My migraines are stress-related. Other triggers can be chocolate, caffiene, alcohol, etc. Log when the vision things happen and if they occur after meals or stressful situations and so on.

                    You should also be vigilant in making sure that if your visual disturbances coincide with any numbness, weakness, paralysis, or slurred speech that you call 911 immediate ---those are signs of a stroke.

                    take care,

                    Sarah

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