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Electrical stimulation and the risk of a vasovagal response

Wed 22nd Jun, 2011

Those of us working around hospitals will, at some time, have patients who experience a ‘funny turn’ and faint. This may be the consequence of a vasovagal episode where blood pressure drops and the sufferer needs to sit down or even collapses. There are many triggers for a vasovagal response, including witnessing an operation or having blood taken (click to find out more about vasovagal response). One of our colleagues in Scotland was unfortunate to have a patient who had a vasovagal episode that was triggered with the application of electrical stimulation. The patient collapsed but was discharged the same day after a check-up in A&E. The incident was reported and investigated and it was established that the stimulator used was working perfectly well. We mention it here so that clinicians can be aware of the possibility and look out for the very rare patient who suddenly feels a bit strange when electrical stimulation is applied.