About one of every six patients hospitalized for a first episode of syncope (fainting) has a pulmonary embolism, according to a study published in the Oct 20 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers at 11 hospitals in Italy performed a systematic work-up for pulmonary embolism in 560 patients admitted for a first-time syncope episode. The team found that 17.3% were diagnosed with pulmonary embolism. That included 13% of patients who’d had a potential alternative explanation for their syncope, such as a cardiovascular condition.

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