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Health Line

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Passing out at the wheel

PASSING out at the wheel of a car may be more common than previously believed, according to researches at Yale University.

What's more, the majority of people who lose consciousness while driving suffer from a treatable heart condition, according to findings presented at the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology (NASPE) meeting.

We think that it has been an underreported phenomenon because patients are fearful that their license will be restricted or their insurance premiums will rise." Dr. Mark H. Schoenfeld, of Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, said.

As the population grows older and increasingly mobile, more accidents are likely to occur if the underlying problems are not treated, Schoenfeld added.

The 14 year study of 54 patients who arrived at a low hospital after losing consciousness or almost losing consciousness while driving revealed that 78 per cent had a co that could be treated. None or the patients had taken drugs or alcohol.

More than 40 per cent of patients were diagnosed with some type of tachycardia, a condition in which the heart beats abnormally fast. About 25 per cent had a sudden drop in blood pressure that caused them to faint. and 12 per cent had a problem with the electrical impulses in the heart causing it to beat too slowly.

All patients were treated with either medication, a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator - a pacemaker-like device that can shock the heart back into a normal rhythm.

Schoenfeld stressed that people who have been diagnosed with any of these conditions do not need to worry that they will lose consciousness while driving. Rather, people who have passed out at the wheel should look into the possibility that they have a treatable heart problem.

As reported in The Business Line News Service

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