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Change in heart rate or rhythm and fainting

Changes in heart rate or rhythm are called arrhythmias. They may reduce the amount of blood flow from the heart (cardiac output) to the brain and the rest of the body. Decreased blood flow to the brain can cause you to pass out suddenly (syncope). In some cases, you may feel short of breath or have palpitations or chest discomfort before you faint.

Heart rate or rhythm changes also can occur when you are anxious or afraid or in a stressful situation. Feeling worried, anxious, and nervous may increase your heart rate, and you may feel lightheaded or like you are going to faint.

Recommended Related to Heart Disease

Women and Heart Disease: Key Facts You Need to Know

Which one of the following statements is true?  Each year, heart disease claims the lives of more women then breast cancer and lung cancer combined. A greater percentage of women die within one year of a heart attack than men. The death rate of African-American women due to cardiovascular disease is greater than white women.  Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease. The answer: All of them. And experts say they represent only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the facts...

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Changes in heart rate or rhythm that cause fainting can be life-threatening.

If you have heart disease or heart failure, or if you have had a heart attack, be sure you understand the seriousness of a change in your heart rate or rhythm.

Author Jan Nissl, RN, BS
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Tracy Landauer
Primary Medical Reviewer William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Updated April 24, 2009

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 24, 2009
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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