Consists of transient attacks of syncope with marked slowing in heart rate and lowering of blood pressure, and loss of consciousness, caused by strong pressure on the neck over the bifurcation of the carotid arteries, which cause the excitation of baroreceptors of the carotid sinuses. The attacks may also be produced by a sudden turn of the head, wearing a tight collar. Attacks may be preceded or accompanied by focal neurological signs. In some cases the patient dies of heart arrest. Elderly persons, especially those with calcified atherosclerotic plaques in the carotid arteries, are most susceptible. The condition occurs more commonly in men, more often after the age of 45 years.
First described by Johann Nepomuk Czermak (1828-1873) in 1866. It was comprehensively described by Soma Weiss (1898-1942) and James Porter Baker (1913-) in 1933.
- J. N. Czermak:
Über mechanische Vagusreizung beim Menschen.
Jenaische Zeitschrift für Medicin und Naturwissenschaft, Leipzig, 1866, 2: 384.
- J. M. Charcot:
Lecons sur les maladies du système nerveux faites à la Salpêtrière.
- S. Weiss, J. P. Baker:
The carotid sinus reflex in health and disease. Its rôle in the causation of fainting and convulsions.
Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, 1933, 12: 297-354.