Distinguishing the Vanilla Faint from a Sudden Death Warning Sign

Distinguishing the Vanilla Faint from a Sudden Death Warning

Distinguishing the Vanilla Faint from a Sudden Death Warning Sign

Course Director(s): Michael Ackerman, M.D.

Released On: February 15, 2015 - Length: 47:36

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This tutorial seeks to equip the learner with the ability to distinguish the common ordinary fainting spell from the much less common extraordinary faint that may be a harbinger for a future sudden death. The spectrum of sudden death predisposing heart conditions that may present with a warning faint will be examined. Using cases, the detective-like scrutiny that needs to be applied will be illustrated. Key pearls and pitfalls with taking a personal and family history and with examining the 12-lead ECG will be provided so that you may be able to prevent those sudden deaths in the young which are preventable.  


  • Identify the key cardiac diseases that underlie potentially lethal faints
  • Distinguish an ordinary fainting spell from an extraordinary one
  • Assess and prevent sudden deaths in the young 


Michael J. Ackerman, M.D., Ph.D
Windland Smith Rice Cardiovascular Genomics Research Professor
Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Pharmacology
Director, Long QT Syndrome/Genetic Heart Rhythm Clinic
Director, Windland Smith Rice Sudden Death Genomics Laboratory
President, Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes (SADS) Foundation
Division of Cardiovascular Diseases Pediatrics
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN


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