How does the prevalence of syncope vary by race, age, and sex?

Updated: Jan 13, 2017
  • Author: Rumm Morag, MD, FACEP; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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No significant differences regarding race are observed with respect to syncope risk. Larger prospective studies fail to show clinically significant differences between men and women.

National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) data show that syncope occurs in all age groups but is most common in adult populations. Noncardiac causes tend to be more common in young adults, whereas cardiac syncope becomes increasingly more frequent with advancing age.

Syncope is relatively uncommon in pediatric populations. One small retrospective study by Pratt and Fleisher reported a prevalence of less than 0.1% in children. [10]  Pediatric syncope warrants prompt detailed evaluation.

Advancing age is an independent risk factor for both syncope and death. Various studies suggest categorizing patients older than 45 years, 65 years, and 80 years as being at higher risk. Advancing age correlates with increasing frequency of coronary artery and myocardial disease, arrhythmia, vasomotor instability, autonomic failure, polyneuropathy, and use of polypharmacy.

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