People faint for a variety of reasons. Standing, particularly when associated with heat or emotional stress, can cause blood to pool in the lower extremities.
“If dehydration is present the situation is worsened,” explains Dr. Richard Nicholas, one of our orthopedic surgeons at UAMS. “The low rate of blood return to the heart in these situations results in hypo-perfusion of the brain and at times the fainting spell. Standing at attention, or with one’s knees locked, may amplify the process.”
One of the methods of counteracting the blood-pooling problem is to contract the leg muscles or move about, thus stimulating the blood return to the heart and improving circulation to the brain. “You may recall that the first aid treatment for fainting is to lay the person on his back and elevate the legs. This increases blood flow to the head and upper body and is often all that is necessary to achieve recovery.”
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