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Top 5 Ways to Differentiate Syncope & Seizures with Dr. Barnes

Heidi L. Barnes Heller, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology), Barnes Veterinary Specialty Services, Madison, Wisconsin



In this episode, host Alyssa Watson, DVM, welcomes back Heidi Barnes Heller, DVM, DACVIM, to talk about her recent Clinician’s Brief article, “Top 5 Ways to Differentiate Syncope & Seizures.” Dr. Barnes offers an in-depth neurologic perspective on how to differentiate a fainting episode (syncope) from a proper seizure. She reviews relevant observations and examination findings. Dr. Barnes emphasizes that what happens during and after an episode is important, but the details of what happened right before the episode are most likely more useful.

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Key Takeaways

  • Finding out what happened right before the event can provide the best clues.
  • Syncope is more often associated with stressful activity or exercise.
  • Finding cardiovascular abnormalities on physical examination should raise suspicion for syncope.
  • Seizures are not usually associated with activity.
  • Autonomic signs (e.g., urination) and/or involuntary motor activity (e.g., muscle rigidity) should raise suspicion for seizure.
  • Encourage clients to record the events.

About Our Guest

Heidi L. Barnes Heller, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology), is the founder and owner of Barnes Veterinary Specialty Services in Madison, Wisconsin. Dr. Barnes Heller earned her DVM from Michigan State University, completed a rotating internship at University of Illinois, and completed a residency in neurology/neurosurgery at University of Florida.

Contact us:

Where to find us:

  • Twitter: @cliniciansbrief
  • Instagram: @clinicians.brief

The Team:

  • Alyssa Watson, DVM - Host
  • Alexis Ussery - Producer & Multimedia Specialist
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