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Syncope Episodes and Blood Flow Restriction Training

Martín-Hernández, Juan, PhD*; Santos-Lozano, Alejandro, PhD*,†; Foster, Carl, PhD; Lucia, Alejandro, MD, PhD†,§

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: November 2018 - Volume 28 - Issue 6 - p e89–e91
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000496
Case Report

Abstract: The combination of low-load resistance training [or more recently, neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES)] with a moderate local blood flow restriction (BFR) is becoming a widespread training and rehabilitation method. Scientific data indicate the overall safety of BFR, at least in healthy young people. However, it has been associated with side effects, usually minor, and further research is warranted regarding the safety and efficacy of this technique, especially in clinical populations. We found 3 syncope/presyncopal episodes among 21 healthy people (9 men), all occurring in men and during familiarization sessions (in which BFR was applied alone) but not thereafter (BFR sessions combined with NMES): 1 subject experienced a brief syncope and 2 other subjects exhibited presyncopal symptoms (sweating, lightheadedness, and pallor). Our cases are evidence that cardiovascular complications may emerge during BFR. Caution is thus needed in the application of BFR, and gentle familiarization with this training modality is also recommended.

*i+HeALTH, Research Group, Department of Health Sciences, Miguel de Cervantes European University, Valladolid, Spain;

Research Institute of the Hospital 12 de Octubre (i+12), Madrid, Spain;

Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, Wisconsin; and

§Faculty of Health Sciences, European University, Madrid, Spain.

Corresponding Author: Juan Martín-Hernández, PhD, European University Miguel de Cervantes, C/Padre Julio Chevalier, 2 CP: 47012, Valladolid, Spain (

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

J. Martín-Hernández and A. Santos-Lozano contributed equally to this work.

Received April 19, 2017

Accepted July 13, 2017

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