It took five years of daily near blackouts and two seizures for Martha Bryce to get the correct diagnosis of swallow syncope, an exceptionally rare condition that causes her heart to stop when she first takes a bite of food. As soon as the condition (a specific type of vasovagal / neurocardiogenic syncope, and sometimes also called swallowing syncope) was properly identified, a pacemaker was installed to keep her heart beating during these episodes. This site is intended to share information in hopes of helping others who might have the same or a similar condition.
News Stories and Press Releases
A MYSTERY DIAGNOSIS episode featuring Martha's story premiered on Monday, November 16, 2009 (Martha's story is the second segment in Season 8, Episode 1 which is entitled "The Boy Who Never Cried") (See Discovery Channel Press Release) (Episode also airs periodically on the Oprah Winfrey Network, most recently on April 25, 2011) ( Mystery Diagnosis has a page on Facebook)
Rare Disease Day 2011 feature about Martha on MSN Health & Fitness
The New York Times featured Martha and Swallow Syncope in a January 2011 "Voices of Rare Diseases" segment published as part of its "Patient Voices" feature; you can hear the patient stories and read the accompanying blog.
Medical Mysteries: Why Did Eating Make Her Faint? (Washington Post, Sandra G. Boodman, August 3, 2009) (also republished in the Connecticut Post on August 31, 2009)
Discovery Channel filming segment at Norwalk Hospital (Norwalk Hour, Steve Kobak, August 7, 2009)
Blimey! Why the sandwich made Briton swoon, January 2009 MSNBC "The Body Odd" story by Jasmin Aline Persch discussing swallow syncope (not specifically mentioning Martha), with a collection of reader comments and accounts.
Other Sites of Interest
STARS: Syncope Trust and Reflex Anoxic Seizures (UK-based organization providing individuals, families and medical professionals with support and information about these causes of blackouts)
Stars US (a national non-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life for individuals and their families coping with Syncope)
National Organization for Rare Disorders ("NORD," dedicated to helping people with rare, orphan diseases)
(Prior comments to be added shortly.)
ADS BY GOOGLE: