Cerebral vasoconstriction during head-upright tilt-induced vasovagal syncope. A paradoxic and unexpected response. Article (Web of Science)


  • BACKGROUND To determine the effect of vasovagally mediated syncope on the cerebral circulation, transcranial Doppler sonography was used to assess changes in cerebral blood flow velocity during head-upright tilt-induced syncope. METHODS AND RESULTS Thirty patients (17 men and 13 women; mean age, 43 +/- 22 years) with recurrent unexplained syncope were evaluated by use of an upright tilt-table test for 30 minutes, with or without an infusion of intravenous isoproterenol (1-4 micrograms/min), in an attempt to provoke bradycardia, hypotension, or both. Transcranial Doppler sonography was used to assess middle cerebral artery systolic velocity (Vs), diastolic velocity (Vd), ratio of systolic to diastolic velocities, pulsatility index (PI = Vs-Vd/Vmean), and resistance index (RI = Vs-Vd/Vs) before, during, and after tilt. Syncope occurred in six patients (20%) during the baseline tilt and 14 (46%) during isoproterenol infusion (total positives, 66%). In the tilt-positive patients, concomitant with the development of hypotension and bradycardia, transcranial Doppler sonography showed a 75 +/- 17% decrease in diastolic velocity, unchanged systolic velocity, a 46 +/- 17% decrease in mean velocity, a 295 +/- 227% increase in pulsatility index, and a 73 +/- 34% increase in resistance index. CONCLUSIONS These findings reflect increased cerebrovascular resistance secondary to arteriolar vasoconstriction distal to the insonation point of the middle cerebral artery. This is paradoxic because the expected response of the cerebral circulation to hypotension is vasodilation. We conclude that abnormal baroreceptor responses triggered during vasovagal syncope result in a derangement of cerebral autoregulation with paradoxic vasoconstriction in the face of increasing hypotension.


publication date

  • 1991

published in

number of pages

  • 7

start page

  • 1157

end page

  • 1164


  • 84


  • 3