Fainting could be sign of dangerous condition
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- We have the story of a mysterious medical condition that was behind a horrific traffic accident. It's a little known problem that causes people to suddenly pass out. And it can happen to anyone.
"I was coming back from the dentist office and I was in a car accident," Casey McKinley.
McKinley doesn't remember the accident. But he takes responsibility for the crash that killed three people.
"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about it. I have to learn to live with it," he said.
Speaking about it for the first time, he told me he blacked out.
"Who would have ever thought that fainting could have caused this horrific, tragic accident?" said his mother, Gay McKinley.
The tilt table test finally diagnosed his medical problem. The patient is strapped in, raised and stays upright for about 30 minutes. Cardiologist Dr. Hina Siddiqui said the results showed McKinley has neurocardiogenic syncope.
"It is a miscommunication between the heart and the brain," Dr. Siddiqui said.
During this tilt table test, doctors can watch what happens to your brain and your heart. And often people with neurocardiogenic syncope will black out.
Casey didn't just blackout; his heart stopped.
"There is no heartbeat for almost 12 seconds," Dr. Siddiqui said.
"It's kind of a relief to finally have answers to what's going on," Casey said.
He had pacemaker surgery four months after the accident and it has stopped the blackouts.
The McKinley family had never heard of neurocardiogenic syncope.
"They look healthy and you think they're healthy, but then they have this condition that is really life altering," Gay McKinley said.
If someone passes out, Dr. Siddiqui says don't ignore it. A test like the tilt table one can tell them why.
"It gives us a lot of information, and it helps in preventing tragedies like what happened to Casey," Dr. Siddiqui said.
Despite his medical condition, McKinley was charged with three counts of manslaughter, served 30 days in jail and was given five years probation.
healthcheck, christi myers
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