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Lightheadedness

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Updated December 04, 2003

Other names: dizziness, unsteadiness

Description: a generalized feeling of dizziness, usually when upright.

Some causes related to cardiovascular disease: can be seen after stroke, or can be due to general weakness caused by low cardiac output or low blood pressure. If lightheadedness is episodic (i.e., if it occurs in sudden episodes) cardiac arrhythmias need to be considered. Some causes related to other disorders: Lightheadedness can be seen with numerous general medical problems, including diabetes, dehydration, and neurological disease.

Significance: Many significant medical problems can cause lightheadedness. Especially common is lightheadedness due to transient arrhythmias. If the patient has had prior myocardial infarction or heart failure, episodes of lightheadedness might be a warning of impending sudden death. This symptom always needs to be carefully evaluated by a physician.

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