INTRODUCTION: Our aim was to determine the characteristics of patients presenting with syncope at a tertiary care hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.
METHODS: A review of medical records was conducted retrospectively at the Department of Medicine, Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi. Patients aged 16 and above, admitted from January 2000 to December 2005 with the diagnosis of syncope made by the attending physician were included.
RESULTS: A total of 269 patients were included (75% males, mean age: 57.4 years). Neurogenic (vasovagal) syncope was the most common cause (47%), followed by cardiogenic syncope (18%) and orthostatic syncope (9%). A total of 24% were discharged undiagnosed. Twenty patients (7.4%) did not have any prodrome. Common prodromal symptoms included dizziness (61%), sweating (25%), palpitations (19%), nausea/vomiting (19%) and visual symptoms (17%). The distribution of symptoms according to cause of syncope revealed only breathlessness to be significantly associated with cardiogenic syncope (p = 0.002). Most patients with cardiogenic syncope were aged above 40 (98%, p < 0.001), had coronary artery disease (72%, p < 0.001) and abnormal electrocardiogram at presentation (92%, p < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: Despite differences in burden of diseases, our findings were similar to those of published syncope literature. Further studies are needed to develop a protocol to expedite the evaluation and limit the work-up and admission in low-risk patients.