Study Assesses Syncope as a Factor in Fitness to Drive

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It isn't clear if lost consciousness is the cause, researchers say
It isn't clear if lost consciousness is the cause, researchers say

HealthDay News — Individuals with a history of syncope may be almost twice as likely as others to get into a car crash, according to a study published online February 29 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Anna-Karin Numé, MD, of the Copenhagen University Gentofte Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues tracked 41,039 adults in Denmark, average age 66, who suffered a first-time diagnosis of syncope between 2008 and 2012. The authors compared their experiences to those of 4.2 million other Danish residents, average age 45.

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After the researchers adjusted their statistics for factors such as age, they found that those with syncope episodes were nearly twice as likely to have gotten into motor vehicle crashes. Over five years, 8% of those aged 18 to 69 who'd been treated for syncope got into crashes, compared to 5 percent of the general population. Those treated for syncope were more likely to be 70 or older (37 compared to 13% of the general population), and more than one-third had cardiovascular disease compared to 10 percent of the others. Those treated for syncope were also more likely to suffer from conditions such as diabetes or alcoholism and take anti-anxiety medications. There was little difference in syncope rates between men and women.

Numé told HealthDay that the results can be helpful as officials consider guidelines about who should and shouldn't be allowed to drive. But, she said, syncope shouldn't be the only factor considered. Donald Redelmeier, MD, of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, and co-author of a commentary accompanying the study, agreed the findings should remind physicians to consider driving safety when they treat syncope patients.

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