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From orthostatic hypotension to Shy-Drager syndrome
  1. J M S Pearce
  1. 304 Beverley Road, Anlaby, East Yorkshire HU10 7BG, UK;

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    Syncope derives from the Greek synkoptein, meaning to strike, cut off, or weary. Hippocrates and biblical texts describe victims of fainting. In the USA syncope accounts for 3% of emergency room visits and 1–6% of all hospital admissions,1 Pierre Adolph Piorry2 (1794–1879) in 1826 reported,

    “When a patient faints, symptoms improve when he is laid flat.”3

    Piorry was a pioneer of percussion and pleximetry, best remembered for his work in chest diseases and for coining the term “uraemia”.

    Thomas Addison, when describing postural syncope in adrenal failure, also noted:

    “Attacks of giddiness and dimness of sight…would occur always …

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