Back to Top Monitoring catches fainting patient’s irregular heartbeat - The Ottawa Hospital

Monitoring catches fainting patient’s irregular heartbeat

Jacinthe Bisson

“This monitor – this research – saved my life. I’m convinced of it,” said patient Jacinthe Bisson, who took part in a research study to monitor patients with fainting spells.   

Doctors in the Emergency Department at The Ottawa Hospital couldn’t explain why Jacinthe Bisson was having fainting spells, until a clinical study revealed she had a life-threatening heart condition.

In one year, the 51-year-old had three syncope, or fainting, episodes. But by the time she arrived at the hospital, she was fine and the doctors could not identify what had caused her to faint. Often syncope is brought on by dehydration, a drop in blood pressure, or an overactive nervous system (such as fainting when seeing blood). Bisson had none of these issues.

A small percentage of people with syncope suffer from serious medical conditions, such as an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. Often patients with unexplained syncope are monitored for few hours. However, if their heartbeat is normal during that time, their condition isn’t caught and they could be discharged only to go home and later die from an arrhythmia.

Bisson was an ideal candidate to take part in a clinical study led by scientist and emergency physician Dr. Venkatesh Thiruganasambandamoorthy, who is also a professor at the University of Ottawa.

“I wanted to find out what was going on with me. And I’m interested in science and research, so if I could participate, then maybe that research would help other people,” said Bisson.

She went home wearing a monitor round-the-clock for 15 days to keep track of her heart’s rhythm. On the seventh day, she felt lightheaded, hot and weak. The monitor captured a potentially life-threatening arrhythmia. Her cardiologist hospitalized her immediately and performed further testing, resulting in Bisson having a defibrillator inserted and being prescribed daily medication.

“I have not fainted since,” she said. “This monitor – this research – saved my life. I’m convinced of it.”

Each year, the Civic and General campuses see up to 1,500 fainting patients. Many of these patients are monitored in the Emergency Department for up to six hours. About 12 percent, though, are admitted and monitored for five to seven days. The average daily hospital stay costs about $1,400, which adds up to about $9,800 per patient.

“Whereas, wearing this monitor for 15 days will cost about $500 in total per patient,” said Dr. Thiruganasambandamoorthy.  “And patients can be monitored at home rather than in the hospital.”

Dr. Thiruganasambandamoorthy’s study has monitored 20 patients outside the hospital since it began in October 2016. Three had life-threatening heart issues that were picked up by the monitor. Dr. Thiruganasambandamoorthy hopes that results from this study will demonstrate that monitoring high-risk syncope patients at home is the best way to treat them.

This study was possible because of generous support from the community for Research to Improve Patient Care. The study was also funded by the Cardiac Arrhythmia Network of Canada and The Ottawa Hospital Academic Medical Organization.


Comment on this post

Your email address will not be published.


You might also like…

Made-in-Ottawa tool helps decide when critically ill patients can breathe on their own

Over the past two years of the pandemic, more Canadians than ever have required mechanical ventilation to help them breathe. The Ottawa Hospital is the first hospital in the world to evaluate an innovative medical device that uses artificial intelligence to predict when critically ill patients are ready to breathe on their own.

Dream vacation becomes nightmare after COVID-19 strikes

Sun and sand turned to fear and uncertainty when Jim and Joanne Booth, married for 57 years, tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2020. Read about their journey back home to receive life-saving care at The Ottawa Hospital.

Giving every COVID-19 patient the chance to participate in research

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Irene and Rebecca have been on the front lines explaining all the available clinical trials to these patients and their families, often during those first difficult days of hospitalization.

Patient gets life-changing diagnosis thanks to Open Science

For years, doctors thought Jenna Keindel had limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, even though they couldn’t find the exact gene that was causing the disease. This all changed when Jenna read a research article about an autoimmune disorder that mimicked muscular dystrophy – sending her life, and diagnosis, on an entirely new path.

COVID-19 timeline: A year in review

When COVID-19 first arrived in Ottawa, The Ottawa Hospital was ready to respond. Explore the COVID-19 timeline to learn how care teams, researchers and the community have come together over the past year.

The Ottawa Hospital contributes to ‘a beautiful evolution’ in HIV research and care

AIDS. It’s a loaded word for many people in Canada, especially gay men. This World AIDS Day, we’re looking back on how The Ottawa Hospital has stayed at the forefront of life-saving HIV research and treatment for nearly 40 years.

This website gives you common facts, advice and tips. Some of it may not apply to you. Please talk to your doctor, nurse or other health-care team member to see if this information will work for you. They can also answer your questions and concerns.