Potential risk of vasovagal syncope for motor vehicle driving

Huagui Li, Marc Weitzel, Arthur Easley, William Barrington, John Windle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Vasovagal syncope is the most common cause of syncope, but its risk for driving remains uncertain. We analyzed the clinical characteristics of patients who had syncope during driving and subsequently underwent the head-up tilt test (HUTT). Of the 245 consecutive patients undergoing HUTT, 23 (9%) had ≥1 episode of syncope during driving. HUTT was positive in 19 (group A) and negative in 4 (group B) patients. No patient had structural heart disease. In group A, the driving incident occurred on the first syncope in 3 patients, and the other 16 patients had 1 to 4 episodes of prior syncope not associated with driving. In group B, the driving incident occurred on the first syncope in 1 patient, and the other 3 patients had prior syncope (3 episodes in each) not associated with driving. Seven group A and 1 group B patients had 2 syncope-related driving incidents, and the remaining patients had only 1 syncope-related driving incident. The syncope-related driving incidents caused personal injury in 7 group A and 2 group B patients. One incident in 1 group A patient caused the death of another driver. After HUTT, all but 1 patient in group A received medical treatment and only 1 patient in group B received empirical β-blocker therapy. During the follow-up of 51 ± 26 months, 1 patient died and another was lost to follow-up. Of the remaining patients, 4 patients had recurrence of syncope and 2 patients had presyncope in group A. One of these patients had another syncope-related driving incident. No group B patient had syncope recurrence. A second etiology of syncope was never found in any patient. We conclude that vasovagal syncope during driving is not uncommon in patients referred for syncope evaluation. Early medical attention to patients with vasovagal syncope may help reduce syncope-related driving incidents. Copyright (C) 2000 Excerpta Medica Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-186
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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