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Olle Melander

Principal investigator

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Pacing therapy in the management of unexplained syncope : A tertiary care centre prospective study


  • Ekrem Yasa
  • Fabrizio Ricci
  • Hannes Holm
  • Torbjörn Persson
  • Olle Melander
  • Richard Sutton
  • Viktor Hamrefors
  • Artur Fedorowski

Summary, in English

Objective Pacemaker (PM) therapy is effective when syncope is associated with bradycardia, but syncope recurrences and fall injuries after PM implantation may occur. We aimed to survey indications and outcomes of PM implantation, following evaluation of unexplained syncope. Methods Among 1666 consecutive unpaced patients investigated in a tertiary syncope unit by carotid-sinus massage (CSM), head-up tilt test (HUT) and ECG monitoring, 106 (6.4%; age, 65 ± 17 years) received a PM. We assessed bradycardia detection methods, PM implantation indications, and explored incidence of recurrent syncope, fall-related fractures and mortality. Results Indications for PM therapy were met in 32/106 patients (30%) by CSM, in 41/106 (39%) by HUT, in 14/106 patients (13%) by implantable loop-recorder (ILR) and in 19/106 (18%) by standard ECG. Sinus arrest with asystole was the predominant PM indication during CSM/HUT and external ECG monitoring, whereas ILR detected proportionally the same numbers o f asystole due to sinus arrest and atrioventricular block. During follow-up (median, 4.3 years), 15 patients (14%) had syncope recurrence, 15 suffered fall-related fractures and 9 died. Neither syncope recurrence nor fall-related fractures were dependent on initial PM indication. The composite endpoint of recurrent syncope/fall-related fracture was associated with treated hypertension (OR 2.45; 95% CI 1.00 to 6.0), reduced glomerular filtration rate (OR 1.63 per 10 mL/minâ †"; 95% CI 1.22 to 2.19) and atrial fibrillation (OR 3.98; 95% CI 1.11 to 14.3). Recurrent syncope predicted increased mortality (OR 9.20; 95% CI 1.89 to 44.8). Conclusions Cardiovascular autonomic testing and ECG monitoring effectively identify pacing indications in patients with unexplained syncope. After PM implantation, treated hypertension, renal failure and atrial fibrillation predict syncope recurrence and fall-related injury. Recurrent syncope predicts increased mortality.


  • Cardiovascular Research - Hypertension
  • EpiHealth: Epidemiology for Health
  • EXODIAB: Excellence in Diabetes Research in Sweden

Publishing year





Open Heart





Document type

Journal article


BMJ Publishing Group


  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems


  • autonomic disease
  • fractures
  • orthostatic hypotension
  • pacemaker
  • syncope



Research group

  • Cardiovascular Research - Hypertension


  • ISSN: 2053-3624