Reflex anoxic seizure: an important diagnosis to remember


Children may present with a sudden collapsing episode, and the paramedic team is often requested to attend such emergencies. It is important that these episodes are correctly categorised as being either epileptic or non-epileptic events. A reflex anoxic seizure (RAS) is one such presentation. RAS is a paroxysmal, spontaneously-reversing, brief episode of asystole triggered by pain, fear or anxiety.RAS occur due to a brief stoppage of the heart caused by overactivity of the vagus nerve. This is usually triggered by an unpleasant stimulus, following which the child may appear pale and lifeless. The diagnosis is usually made by a paediatrician but it is important that the paramedic team are aware of this condition. A child with a diagnosis of RAS may be managed by reassurance from paramedic practitioners if the child is judged to be well after an episode.

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