A 34-year-old man presented to our ED via emergency medical services (EMS) following a syncopal episode. The patient stated that as he was getting ready for work earlier that morning, he experienced sudden lightheadedness and passed out, whereupon his wife immediately called EMS. The patient denied any previous history of syncope, but said he had been experiencing frequent episodes of nausea and vomiting over the past week. He also complained of a mild occipital headache that acetaminophen had failed to relieve.
The patient had been seen at a different ED 3 days earlier for nausea and vomiting. After evaluating the patient, the emergency physician (EP) at this facility felt the most likely cause of the patient’s gastrointestinal issues was related to hydralazine, his antihypertensive medication, and advised the patient to discontinue its use.
During evaluation at our ED, the patient denied fever, chills, neck stiffness, numbness, weakness, tingling of the extremities, or difficulty walking. He also denied chest pain, shortness of breath, or urinary symptoms. The patient’s medical history was significant only for hypertension; he had not taken any antihypertensive or other medications for the past 3 days, as previously instructed by the EP at the other ED. The patient denied alcohol or drug abuse.
On physical examination, the patient’s vital signs were: temperature, 98.6°F; heart rate, 58 beats/minute; blood pressure, 130/90 mm Hg; and respiratory rate, 16 breaths/minute. Oxygen saturation was 100% on room air. Examination of the head was normal and without evidence of trauma. Both pupils measured 4 mm and were equally round and reactive to light; the patient’s extraocular movements were intact. The remainder of the head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat examination was normal. The neck was supple, without masses or meningeal signs. The cardiopulmonary and abdominal examinations were all normal. On neurological examination, the patient was awake, alert, and oriented to person, place, and time. Cranial nerves II through XII were intact, and the patient had 5/5 motor strength in all four extremities and a normal gait.