Sudden fainting can be genetic

Sudden fainting can be genetic

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A certain gene can also be behind a blackout

Fainting is not only caused by external factors, but genes also play a role. Danish researchers have now found this out. The scientists found that a specific gene increased the risk of fainting.

Genes also play a role

According to health experts, about one in three of them experiences fainting (syncope) in the course of their life. Sudden loss of consciousness can be a one-time event, but it can also happen again and again. In some cases, fainting spells can indicate life-threatening diseases. Often, however, there are relatively harmless reasons why you suddenly go black in front of your eyes and tip over. Researchers have now found that fainting is not only caused by external factors, but that genes also play a role.

Fainting can be fatal

Factors such as fluctuations in blood pressure, heat, dehydration and anxiety can lead to fainting.

Sometimes there is also a neurological problem or heart disease behind a blackout.

Fainting fits can sometimes be fatal if, for example, you experience driving or cycling.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen, the Statens Serum Institute and Rigshospitalet Hospital have now come a step closer to explaining the phenomenon.

According to a statement, scientists are the first to identify a gene that is associated with an increased risk of fainting.

The new research results were published in the journal "Cardiovascular Research".

Gene variant increases the risk of fainting

The Danish researchers have analyzed data from the UK's "UK Biobank", which contains information on around 400,000 Britons.

Of these, 9,163 had been given medical treatment for fainting.

In order to identify the genetic variants associated with fainting, the scientists systematically analyzed millions of genetic variants in the genetic makeup of the participants.

"We found that a variant of chromosome 2 increases the risk of fainting," said study author Morten Salling Olesen from the University of Copenhagen.

The human genome can contain one, two or none of these variants. According to the researchers, people who carry both gene variants have a 30 percent higher risk of fainting than people who are not carriers of the variant.

"In addition, we are the first to show that fainting is genetic and that an increased risk of fainting could be located at a specific point in the genome," said Olesen.

Women pass out twice as often

The scientists also analyzed data from a Danish study involving 54,656 people. The result confirmed their previous findings.

The researchers found the same genetic risk variant among the vulnerable to fainting as in the British study.

They also found that women under the age of 35 faint about twice as often as men under the age of 35. The reason for this is still unknown.

And: "In the study, we showed that if you are a woman and carry the risk variant on both chromosomes of chromosome pair no. 2, you have an approximately three times higher risk of fainting than men who do not carry the risk variant," said Olesen.

Lack of blood and oxygen in the brain

As the message says, it is widely believed that fainting is caused by a lack of blood and oxygen in the brain, which leads to a complete loss of consciousness in the short term.

There are different types of syncope, with vasovagal syncope being the most common.

Here, for example, seeing blood leads to a significant drop in blood pressure, which is caused by a slow heart rate and an expansion of the blood vessels, and reduced blood flow to the brain.

The gene identified by the researchers and associated with fainting is called ZNF804A.

"We believe that the gene we identified predisposes to vasovagal syncope," said Olesen.

"But we still don't know. First, we have to examine the gene closely, ”said the expert. (ad)

Author and source information

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