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Psychiatric traits in patients with vasovagal and unexplained syncope

Authors Alhuzaimi A, Aljohar A, Alhadi AN, Aljenedil A, Hersi AS

Received 17 November 2017

Accepted for publication 4 January 2018

Published 8 March 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 99—104

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJGM.S157335

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Abdullah Alhuzaimi,1 Alwaleed Aljohar,2 Ahmad N. Alhadi,3,4 Abdulqudous Aljenedil,2 Ahmad S Hersi1

1Department of Cardiac Sciences, King Fahad Cardiac Center, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; 2College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; 3Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; 4SABIC Psychological Health Research & Applications Chair (SPHRAC), College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Purpose: Syncope is a common condition affecting almost one-third of the general population. The present study measures the prevalence of psychiatric traits in patients presenting with syncope (unexplained and vasovagal) and whether recurrent attacks have an impact on psychiatric profiles.
Patients and methods: This is a case–control study in a tertiary hospital enrolling all patients aged ≥12 years with single or recurrent syncopal attacks. A self-reporting psychometric questionnaire (The Symptoms Checklist-90-Revised) was used to screen for depression, anxiety, somatization disorder, and phobia. Crude comparisons of average scores were done. Further, multiple logistic regression analyses were carried out to measure the impact of syncope on each psychiatric domain. The control group were matched for age, gender, and chronic illnesses with a ratio of 1:3.
Results: There were 43 cases and 129 control subjects, with predominance of females (67.4%) and an average age of 33.8 years (standard deviation = 16). There were no significant differences in average scores of depression (13 vs 14.53, P = 0.31), anxiety (11.3 vs 10.4, P = 0.51), or phobia (5.4 vs 5.2, P = 0.88). However, the syncope group had a higher average score for somatization disorder (18.53 vs 13.66, P = 0.002). Binary logistic regression model showed that the association between syncope and somatization disorder was independent of competing confounders (odds ratio = 3.75, 95% confidence interval: 1.72, 8.15, P = 0.001). A sub-analysis of the case group showed that patients with multiple syncopal attacks (six or more) had higher average scores of depression, anxiety, phobia, and somatization disorder compared to those who had less than six attacks.
Conclusion: Syncope was independently associated with somatization disorder traits. Further, recurrent syncope resulted in greater deterioration of patients’ psychiatric profiles. Thus, taking into account the psychiatric status in the management of such patients is crucial.

Keywords: syncope, psychiatric disorders, anxiety, somatization disorder, phobia, depression

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