Bafetimbi Gomis collapse: Alarming to witness but recovery is swift

Medical analysis: This kind of fainting is caused by the slowing of the heartbeat

Although initially extremely alarming, especially given memories of the moment Fabrice Muamba’s heart stopped beating on the same pitch three years ago, Bafétimbi Gomis’ blackout  at White Hart Lane on Wednesday night is not  comparable to that so nearly tragic incident.

While fainting can be a symptom of heart problems, that does not appear to be the case for Gomis. Swansea have said that the incident is related to an underlying “vasovagal condition”, of which the club and the player are fully aware.

Vasovagal syncope is the name given to this kind of fainting. It is caused by the abrupt slowing of the heartbeat, which leads to a temporary loss of blood supply to the brain and a resulting loss in consciousness.


The cause usually lies in an overstimulation of the vagus – a part of the nervous system that controls breathing and circulation. Certain triggers – sometimes sudden pain or stress – cause the nervous system to stop working properly, which causes the heartbeat to slow or pause.

Again, while this sounds concerning, the effect is almost instantaneous: the heart quickly starts beating again and consciousness usually returns rapidly. Gomis was said to be “feeling fine” by half-time.

The player appears to be predisposed to these kind of attacks. He is said to have suffered from them since the age of 14.

His club doctors have said he has been through thorough medicals and that there is no reason for him to stop playing.

It is hard to tell for certain what triggered this episode, but Gomis took to Twitter after the incident to explain that he has been under “a great deal of stress and fatigue” due to his father being ill, requiring repeated trips to France and back.