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Unexplained syncope in an 83 y/o caucasian male

83 y/o caucasian male, healthy, but with rheumatoid arthritis under treatment has experienced 1 syncopal episode and 18 near syncopal episodes since July, 2009, averaging about 1-2/month.  The episodes are all very similar and (depending on severity), include, dizziness, changes in visual acuity, inability to stand or walk, nausea and retching, and weakness.  There are no prodromal symptoms but the patient takes a few minutes to fully recover from the sequelae of an attack.   Has received complete cardiac workup with duplex carotid ultrasound, cardiac echo, nuclear scan, Tilt table, holter monitoring x 30 days, and otolaryngologic evaluation---all negative.  The only clues were obtained by myself (as nephew).  In April, 2009, while driving, the patient suffered an attack and had to pull to the curbside.  Within several seconds, I touched his radial pulse from the rear seat of the vehicle and noticed a tachycardia.  On 16 July just subsequent to an attack,  his systolic blood pressure was measured at 200mm Hg.  In addition, subsequent to this same attack, (4) 20-second episodes were recorded by Holter and sent to a monitoring center via telephone.  These were apparently unremarkable.  The possibility is suspected that an brief brady or tachyarrhythmia is responsible for all of these episodes and has gone unrecorded by the Holter due to the fact that the arrhythmia is so very brief that it has terminated by the time that the patient experiences (and reacts to) the symptoms.  There are no identified blood sugar abnormalities, or seizure disorders.  There is no history of hypertension or clotting disorders. There is a family risk factor for atherosclerotic heart disease.  What is needed is guidance on choosing the next appropriate step--perhaps an implantable loop recorder in Cleveland, Ohio?  
2 Responses
86819 tn?1378947492
Hi. I am curious as to how you know it was a tachycardia by feeling his radial pulse. If you knew this with certainty, that would be a key observation. But it is curious that there are also 4 20 second episodes that were recorded and no definitive acknowledgement that a qualified someone has read the traces.  Have you considered looking at the traces yourself; alternately getting a second opinion about them?

I would definitely call the doctors office about this and follow up to ensure there was some kind of judgment call made on the waveforms. Were they entirely normal for instance, or in a grey area? Were they illegible or inconclusive perhaps? If so, you  may need to repeat the test. You need this feedback from the doc, so I suggest follow up and possible second opinion based on another doctor seeing the data too.

If tachycardia can be established by feel, but not by surface electrograms taken when the espisodes are occuring I dont know what to think.  You could reconsider your conclusion that you actually felt a tachycardia and pursue other possibilities. Or request a 30 day holter maybe to see if you can catch some other stuff?  Not sure what would dictate the use of an implantable recorder over a holter.  I would explore that option with your doctors.
86819 tn?1378947492
Sorry one other thought. If you look at the traces yourself, be sure to look for a timestamp appropriate to the time the episode occurred.
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