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Collapse is a common presenting complaint to accident and emergency (A & E) departments. This retrospective study of 4180 new attendances at a district general hospital A & E showed that this accounted for 2.9%. A wide disease spectrum was implicated. This patient group has a high admission rate (47.8%) and a high mortality rate (31.3%). The deaths occurred largely in the elderly and it is suggested that elderly patients should either be admitted for observation, or a careful screening carried out for underlying pathology. The diversity of disease precludes a standard management protocol.