Vestibular syncope: clinical characteristics and mechanism

Hanim Kwon, Eunjin Kwon, Hyo Jung Kim, Jeong Yoon Choi, Ji Soo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Vestibular syncope is a condition in which vertigo-induced hemodynamic changes cause syncope. This study investigated the clinical and laboratory findings of vestibular syncope and tried to refine our knowledge of the mechanism underlying this newly recognized entity. Methods: This study retrospectively analyzed 53 patients (33 women, median age = 63 years [interquartile range = 54–71 years]) with vestibular syncope from January 2017 to December 2021. To explain the mechanism of vestibular syncope, we incorporated a velocity-storage model into the dual reflex pathways comprising the vestibulo-sympathetic reflex and baroreflex and predicted the cardiovascular responses. Results: Twenty (37.7%) patients had multiple episodes of vestibular syncope, and seven (13.2%) had potentially life-threatening injuries. Meniere's disease (20.8%) and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (9.4%) were the most common underlying vestibular disorders. Abnormal vestibular function tests included impaired cervical vestibular-evoked myogenic potentials (57.5%) and positive head impulse tests (31.0%). Orthostatic hypotension was found in 19.5% of patients. Dyslipidemia (30.2%) and hypertension (28.3%) were common medical comorbidities. The dual reflex pathways incorporating the function of the velocity-storage circuit in the brainstem and cerebellum suggest that vestibular syncope is a neurally mediated reflex syncope associated with a sudden hemodynamic change during vertigo. This change can be arterial hypertension triggered by a false downward inertial cue, as suggested previously, or hypotension driven by a false upward inertial cue. Conclusions: Vestibular syncope is associated with various vestibular disorders and requires careful evaluation and intervention to prevent recurrent falls and significant injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1616-1625
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Clinical and Translational Neurology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


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