Blackouts are common, affecting up to 50% of the population. However, little is known about the incidence and initial management of blackouts in primary care. A retrospective computerised search of the medical records of 16,911 patients in two UK practices found the incidence of first presentation with blackout to the GP to be 3.4/1,000 patients/year. Affected patients’ records were then individually reviewed to assess whether key aspects of National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) blackouts and European Society of Cardiology syncope guidelines had been followed during that initial consultation. GPs were generally better at enquiring about features that differentiate between vasovagal syncope and epilepsy. They were not as good at detecting syncope red flags, which help to identify the cardiac causes of syncope that are associated with higher mortality. Raising awareness of these red flags in primary care was recommended.
For UK healthcare professionals only