Vasovagal syncope: An update on the latest pharmacological therapies

John William Schleifer, Win Kuang Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Syncope is an abrupt loss of consciousness in response to reduced perfusion to the brain. Neurocardiogenic or vasovagal syncope results from a complex neurologic reflex, and treatments to prevent recurrence attempt to modulate aspects of that reflex.Areas covered: Pharmacologic treatments for vasovagal syncope address the syncope reflex in multiple ways. Fludrocortisone and sodium chloride increase systemic fluid volume. Midodrine, β blockers and norepinephrine transport inhibitors modulate the sympathetic nervous system. Other treatments for syncope modulate other neurotransmitters or affect heart rate. The most recent trials evaluating established and novel therapies are reviewed.Expert opinion: To reduce recurrence of vasovagal syncope, conservative measures are first line. If these fail to prevent recurrence, the most promising medical therapy includes midodrine. Randomized placebo-controlled data evaluating fludrocortisone, midodrine and β blockers in older patients are awaited. Because of the significance of the placebo effect in this condition, any treatment must be evaluated in a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial before being accepted as effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-513
Number of pages13
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Autonomic
  • Fludrocortisone
  • Midodrine
  • Neurocardiogenic
  • Syncope
  • Vasovagal
  • β blockers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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