If fainting happens after long period of standing, heat exhaustion, donating blood or witnessing something stressful such as the sight of blood, there is no need to see a physician. However, in the absence of any of the above , especially in older individuals, you will need to seek medical attention.
In an older person, fainting may happen due to a brain or a heart problem.
Brain problems that can cause fainting can include stroke or a seizure. Stroke is when blood supply to the brain has been cut off causing death of brain tissue. A seizure is uncontrolled electrical shocks that suddenly happen all over the brain and cause the body to collapse. Both stroke and seizure are serious medical conditions.
Heart problems can also cause a person to faint. These include sudden uncontrolled electrical activity that throws the heart pump totally off balance and unable to pump blood. Another reason can be a heart attack where an artery that supplies blood to a part of the heart gets blocked.
A fainting spell that happens out of the blue without any apparent reason should quickly prompt us to activate EMS. Conditions that I have described above are life threatening and the earlier the person reaches the hospital the better the chances of limiting permanent damage and surviving.
If the person who fainted remains unresponsive and does not have a pulse you will need to start providing chest compression while someone else calls EMS. You can also use an AED (Defibrillator) if its available on the premises.
So, are you able to recognize a simple case of fainting versus a more serious one where you need to get the person to the hospital quickly? Are you trained in providing Basic Life Support should the need arise? Please comment to let me know.