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Syncope among U.S. Air Force basic military trainees, August 2012-July 2013.

Publication Status: Published

Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)

Sponsoring Office: Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center

Congressionally Mandated: No

Funding Source: Undetermined

Release Date/Publication: November 01, 2013

Principle Investigator Status: Government

Primary DoD Data Source: Other

Secondary DoD Data Source:


Syncope is a common event with many possible etiologies, ranging from benign to severe. Syncopal episodes of any origin, however, may result in traumatic injury due to postural collapse. Based on the prevalence of internal and external stressors during training, basic military trainees may be at increased risk for syncope. Between 1 August 2012 and 31 July 2013, there were 112 unique individuals who experienced syncopal or pre-syncopal events among basic military trainees at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, the only basic training site in the U.S. Air Force. The overall rate was 19.6 cases per 1,000 person-years (18.4 and 36.1 per 1,000 person-years in males and females, respectively). Based upon the findings of electronic chart review of the 112 cases, a majority of events occurred either during or immediately after exercise (n=38) or during a blood draw, immunization, or laceration repair (n=22). The most common etiologies were judged to be neurocardiogenic (n=54) and orthostatic hypotension (n=40), and two cases were attributed to cardiovascular disease. These findings support current preventive measures, including anemia screening during medical in-processing, an emphasis on hydration throughout training, and a padded floor in the trainee vaccination bay.


Webber BJ, Cropper TL, Federinko SP. Syncope among U.S. Air Force basic military trainees, August 2012-July 2013. MSMR. 2013 Nov;20(11):2-4.

Last Updated: February 21, 2019
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