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Treating Syncope: Helping Your Heart

If heart trouble caused your fainting, treatment may improve blood flow, stop syncope, and help prevent further heart problems. Your doctor can explain the benefits and risks of each treatment.

Outline of chest showing cross section of heart with pacemaker in place. Generator is under collarbone with 2 leads entering vein and going into heart. Right atrial lead ends in right atrium and right ventricular lead ends in bottom of right ventricle.
A pacemaker in place. (An ICD looks similar and is implanted in the same area of the body.)

Pacemaker or ICD

These devices can help speed up or slow down your heartbeat. They are implanted under the skin in the chest during a hospital procedure. Once you have a pacemaker or an ICD, see your doctor as directed. He or she will want to check the device and your heart rhythm:

  • A pacemaker can speed up a slow heartbeat. When needed, the pacemaker sends an electrical impulse to the heart, telling it to beat faster. The pacemaker is placed under the skin.

  • An ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) slows down a fast heartbeat. The ICD often contains a pacemaker that helps control the heart rate. If needed, the ICD also sends 1 or more electric shocks to restore a normal heartbeat.

Other Treatments

In some cases, your doctor may suggest a procedure or surgery. These can provide a long-term solution for certain heart problems:

  • Catheter ablation treats a fast heartbeat by changing part of the heart’s electrical system. A thin tube is threaded through a blood vessel to the heart. Radio frequency waves are sent through the tube to destroy problem pathways or electrical cells. Your doctor can tell you more about this procedure.

  • Heart valve surgery may be best for you if you have heart valve problems. The valve may be rebuilt or replaced, which may allow blood to flow through your heart normally. Your doctor can tell you more about this option, if it’s right for you.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brown, Kim, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 2/19/2014
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