Adams-Stokes attacks

Adams-Stokes Attacks: Causes and Treatments

Adams-Stokes attacks are episodes of transient heart block that cause a sudden loss of consciousness. During an attack, a person will appear to faint or faint. This is because electrical signals that stimulate the heartbeat, or heartbeat, are temporarily interrupted. As a result, the heart will slow down and even stop for a brief period of time, causing a lack of blood flow to the brain. When the electrical signals return, the person will wake up.


Adams-Stokes attacks are most commonly caused by abnormal conduction (electrical signal) of the heart, such as atrioventricular (AV) blocks. AV blocks occur when the electrical signal that causes the heartbeat is slowed or disrupted. This disruption can be caused by conditions such as coronary artery disease, cardiac arrhythmias, or cardiomyopathy. Adams-Stokes attacks can also be caused by drugs, electrolyte imbalances, or even extreme physical exertion.


Treatment of Adams-Stokes attacks depends on the cause. If the attack was caused by a drug, the drug can be discontinued. If the attack was caused by an electrolyte imbalance, the imbalance can be corrected. If the attack was caused by an underlying heart condition, the treatment may involve medications, such as beta blockers or pacemakers, to restore the heart rhythm. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the heart.


The best way to prevent Adams-Stokes attacks is to detect and treat any underlying conditions or imbalances that may be causing the episode. This may include regular health assessments, blood tests to check for electrolyte imbalances, and lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol consumption, and exercising. It is also important to take any medications prescribed by your doctor to treat any conditions or imbalances.

Risk Factors

Individuals at an increased risk for Adams-Stokes attacks include those with underlying heart conditions such as coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathy, and those with electrolyte imbalances. Older adults are also more likely to have Adams-Stokes episodes, as are those who have recently suffered from other medical conditions such as a stroke, diabetes, or kidney disease.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Sudden dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Syncope (loss of consciousness)
  • Palpitations
  • Confusion
  • Rapid or weak pulse
  • Slow respiration rate