Post-exercise syncope: Wingate syncope test and visual-cognitive function

Dylan C. Sieck, Matthew R. Ely, Steven A. Romero, Meredith J. Luttrell, Pedro M. Abdala, John R. Halliwill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Adequate cerebral perfusion is necessary to maintain consciousness in upright humans. Following maximal anaerobic exercise, cerebral perfusion can become compromised and result in syncope. It is unknown whether post-exercise reductions in cerebral perfusion can lead to visual-cognitive deficits prior to the onset of syncope, which would be of concern for emergency workers and warfighters, where critical decision making and intense physical activity are combined. Therefore, the purpose of this experiment was to determine if reductions in cerebral blood velocity, induced by maximal anaerobic exercise and head-up tilt, result in visual-cognitive deficits prior to the onset of syncope. Nineteen sedentary to recreationally active volunteers completed a symptom-limited 60° head-up tilt for 16 min before and up to 16 min after a 60 sec Wingate test. Blood velocity of the middle cerebral artery was measured using transcranial Doppler ultrasound and a visual decision-reaction time test was assessed, with independent analysis of peripheral and central visual field responses. Cerebral blood velocity was 12.7 ± 4.0% lower (mean ± SE; P < 0.05) after exercise compared to pre-exercise. This was associated with a 63 ± 29% increase (P < 0.05) in error rate for responses to cues provided to the peripheral visual field, without affecting central visual field error rates (P = 0.46) or decision-reaction times for either visual field. These data suggest that the reduction in cerebral blood velocity following maximal anaerobic exercise contributes to visual-cognitive deficits in the peripheral visual field without an apparent affect to the central visual field.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12883
JournalPhysiological Reports
Issue number16
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Anaerobic exercise
  • cerebrovascular circulation
  • hypotension
  • orthostatic
  • orthostatic intolerance
  • post-exercise hypotension
  • syncope
  • tilt-table test
  • vasovagal


Dive into the research topics of 'Post-exercise syncope: Wingate syncope test and visual-cognitive function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this