Faintness, dizziness and losing consciousness

Malaises dans l'Amylose

Amyloidosis patients may experience different degrees of faintness for many different reasons. Feeling faint and dizzy is common for amyloidosis patients. This can be caused by a number of things. Faintness can range from dizziness to blackouts causing patients to collapse. The latter may lead to injury if a patient has a fall. Feeling faint is usually caused by damage in the nerves that regulate autonomic bodily functions. It can also be brought about by medication taken a long time before the amyloidosis started to show up. Varying degrees of faintness may be experienced:
  • When a patient stands up (orthostatism)
This occurs when a patient goes from sitting or lying down to standing up. This kind of faintness is generally caused by a loss of vascular tonicity in the legs. When we are resting, and we go from sitting or lying down to standing up, the vessels in our legs constrict to keep the blood in the upper body, notably the brain. When the nerves that regulate the blood have been damaged by amyloids, the blood vessels in the legs can no longer constrict properly and the blood in the brain falls towards the legs. This means that the brain is no longer being fuelled and this is when blackouts, dizziness and fainting occur.
Specific medical checks are necessary to establish what is causing the faintness (measuring the blood pressure repeatedly from standing to sitting) so that treatments and corrective measures can be put in place: supportive stockings, learning to gradually change position, etc. It is also possible to prescribe treatments which can tone the vessels. Faintness and fainting can have a big impact on your quality of life, so please talk to your doctor!
  • When a patient walks or exerts him/herself
This type of faintness can work in the same way as the faintness mentioned above that comes from changing position. It can also be as a result of the heart rate failing to increase when needed, i.e. when the patient moves a lot. When the body goes from a state of resting to moving, the heart pumps more quickly to increase the flow rate and provide the organs and, notably, the muscles with more blood and oxygen. When a patient has cardiac amyloidosis, the electric current which controls the pumping can be damaged. The heart rate therefore no longer accelerates when the body is being exerted. This can lead to breathlessness but also faintness when the brain is not sufficiently supplied with blood. Dizzy spells are common amongst amyloidosis patients and it is necessary to do a thorough check-up to find the cause, as there are numerous possibilities.