Blackout and Faints

This is a common problem that can have many causes. Syncope is the cardiac condition that can cause blackouts and faints. It is defined as a transient, self-limited loss of consciousness, which in most cases is benign but in a small subset of patients may be an indicator of a life-threatening event. It affects approximately 1/3rd of people throughout their life, with it being the 15 th most common cause of presentation to an emergency department. It is the 5 th most common reason for being admitted to hospital through an emergency department. It is an important cause of blackouts, faints and unexplained falls.

With traditional models of care it usually involves visits to multiple different specialists and numerous tests. Even with this approach about 30 % of patients do not end up having a definite diagnosis for their problem found.

The Sydney Adventist Hospital is leading the way in Australia, by developing an integrated model for the diagnosis and management of this common problem. The new “Blackouts and Faints Clinic” is a collaboration between multiple specialties to facilitate the diagnosis of these patients in a fast and efficient manner that minimises the patients inconvenience and cost.

As the Director of this new and exciting venture, my input is built not only on my general cardiology knowledge but also my expertise in cardiac rhythm disorders, which are important fundamentals to the accurate diagnosis of cardiac causes of syncope and to effective management.

Please see here for an article Dr Tanswell wrote for the SAN Hospital about investigating syncope.

Dr Tanswell on 2GB Radio

On 28th July 2020 Dr Tanswell spoke with John Stanley about the Tilt Table at the San Hospital Blackout and Faints Clinic
GP Referral

If you think you may be suffering from syncope but are not sure, you might find it useful to print and review our GP referral form (editable PDF) which includes some basic questions that will help identify whether you may be appropriate for referral to the clinic.

Appointments and Enquiries

All patients will be bulk-billed for their appointment and associated tests performed at the clinic. Patients need a referral to the Blackouts & Faints Clinic from their General Practitioner (GP). The clinic appointment must be made prior to arrival. Patients are advised to allow at least two hours for assessment and if possible to bring someone who has witnessed one of their faints or unexplained falls.

You should also be aware that if the assessment and associated clinic tests highlight a serious (or the potential of a serious) underlying medical condition then you may be directly admitted to the hospital for further monitoring and review. For these instances, it may be beneficial to have an overnight bag with you and to include any of your medications in original packaging. Please be aware that specialist appointments and hospital stays will be subject to your normal private health fund cover and we recommend you check with your health fund on your level of cover prior to your clinic visit should an inpatient stay be required.

If you would like further information about our Blackouts & Faints Clinic you can download our information brochure.

How to find us

San Heart - Blackouts & Faints Clinic is located at:

Suite 205
Level 2, Tulloch Building
Sydney Adventist Hospital
185 Fox Valley Road
Wahroonga NSW 2076
P: (02) 9480 9633 F: (02) 9480 8233 E:


The Clinic was featured on Channel 9 news, watch here:

For further information, please access the link