The electrocardiogram in the patient with syncope

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Syncope is a common and challenging presentation for the emergency physician. Various investigators have developed clinical risk score and clinical decision rules which are designed to identify the population at highest risk for adverse events. In each of these clinical decision tools, the electrocardiogram (ECG) is one of the key clinical variables used to evaluate the patient. Certain electrocardiographic presentations in the patient with syncope will not only provide a reason for the loss of consciousness but also guide early therapy and disposition in this individual. Bradycardia, atrioventricular block, intraventricular conduction abnormality, and tachydysrhythmia in the appropriate clinical setting provide an answer to the clinician for the sync opal event. Morphologic findings suggesting the range of cardiovascular malady are also encountered; these entities are far ranging, including the various ST-segment and T-wave abnormalities of acute coronary syndrome, ventricular preexcitation as seen in the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, Brugada syndrome with the associated tendency for sudden death, prolonged QT interval common in the diverse long QT interval presentations, and right ventricular hypertrophy suggestive of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This review discusses the ECG in the patient with syncope. The general use of the 12-lead ECG in this patient population is discussed. Furthermore, specific electrocardiographic presentations seen in the patient with syncope are also reviewed.

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