By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Syncope is one of those medical words that has dramatic implications in medical circles, but probably doesn’t mean much to many of you. Let me explain what syncope is.

Syncope is a short-term but abrupt loss of consciousness with a complete return to preexisting neurological function. A person who has had a syncopal episode is normally brought to the hospital by a friend or family member and the story is something like, “I just fell to the ground” or “I was fine one moment and out the next.”

Once at the hospital, we check out the various causes. Things like cardiac or neurological issues can be a major concern. This is why we often bring people with these issues into the hospital for a stay.