ADAMS-STOKES DISEASE: Adam-Stokes is an altered state of consciousness due to a decreased flow of blood to the brain. This sudden collapse into unconsciousness is due to a disorder of heart rhythm in which there is a slow or absent pulse resulting in syncope (fainting) with or without convulsions.
Etiology: In this condition, the normal heartbeat passing from the upper chambers of the heart to the lower chambers is interrupted. This results in a condition called a "heart block." When a heart block occurs, the heart rate usually slows considerably. This can cause inadequate blood flow to the brain and result in fainting.
Treatment: The patient should immediately be placed in a recumbent position with the legs elevated and call 911. Long-term treatment consists of implanting a cardiac pacemaker.
Also known as: Adams-Stokes Syndrome, Morgagni, Morgagni-Adams-Stokes and Spens syndrome
Roberts Adams (1791-1875) and William Stokes (1804-1878) were Irish physicians. William Stokes is remembered for Cheyne-Stokes respiration, a pattern of breathing that is often seen in a coma. Thomas Spens (1764-1842) was a Scottish physician. Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771) was an Italian anatomist and pathologist. Even though Adams, Stokes, and Spens did describe the syndrome under separate circumstances in the early 19th century, the first description was, recorded in 1761 by Giovanni Morgagni.
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