Syncope is the medical term for fainting and between 35 to 40 per cent of Canadians under age 60 are affected.
Some have one or two isolated episodes but for others it happens more regularly.
Cardiologist Dr. Robert Sheldon says the patients he sees will sometimes faint 10 or 20 times, and they're usually in their 30s.
Angel Redisky, 46, faints about once a week and needs someone by her side for safety.
The sudden loss of consciousness can result in injury and for some, daily activities can also be impacted.
“They have problems with jobs, driving, they get hurt, problems in school, a lot of problems, so the question is, how do you stop this?" says Sheldon. "We don’t really have any good treatments right now."
Many drugs have been tested to treat syncope but most are inadequate because doctors don’t fully understand why some people faint and others don’t.
Research over the years has shown that fainting could have genetic origins so scientists in Calgary were inspired to launch a study into the genetic susceptibility to syncope.
“The study is trying to figure out what it is that’s going on in the brain that allows people to faint, that triggers the faint,” says Sheldon, “Most fainters have one or two faints when they’re in their teens and then some have fainted a bunch of times in their teens and lots of them do nothing for decades and then they start and it’s like a switch is thrown."
The study will compare the genes of 1000 people who faint with the same size sample of people who don’t.
So far, 800 people have signed up for the study but researchers are still looking for 200 more to complete their data collection.
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