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The different clinical presentations of vasovagal syncope
  1. Paolo Alboni
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paolo Alboni, Section of Cardiology, Ospedale Privato Quisisana, Viale Cavour 128, Ferrara 44121, Italy; alboni.cardiologia{at}


For some decades, after the introduction of the head-up tilt test into clinical practice, the clinical presentation of vasovagal syncope (VVS) has been classified as typical (or classical) and atypical (or non-classical). Some clinical features and recent data suggest that even unexplained falls and syncope during sleeping hours may be possible clinical presentations of VVS. In recent studies, tilt testing and carotid sinus massage by means of the ‘method of symptoms’ were performed in one group of patients with unexplained falls and in another group with unexplained syncope (presence of prodromal symptoms). Overall, tilt testing and carotid sinus massage displayed a high positivity rate in the group of patients with unexplained falls (about 60%), which was similar to that of the unexplained syncope group. These new data seem to indicate that some unexplained falls could be cases of atypical VVS/carotid sinus syncope with retrograde amnesia. Some clinical features suggest that syncope during sleeping hours is a form of VVS with a different clinical presentation: high prevalence of autonomic prodromes, of diurnal episodes of typical VVS and specific phobias, and of positive tilt testing with severe cardioinhibition.

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