WHO Guide to Mental and Neurological Health in Primary Care
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Homepage :: Adult disorders :: Stroke and transient ischaemic attack :: Presenting complaints

Presenting complaints

  • Usually sudden on-set focal symptoms and signs, eg left or right hemiparesis/hemisensory deficit, ataxia, dysphasia or hemianopia. The evolution may be stuttering over a few days or, rarely, longer.
  • Dysarthria is very common but not of localizing value because it may occur with hemisphere or brainstem lesions.
  • Some patients complain of headache at the time of stroke or leading up to it.

Transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs) have been arbitrarily defined as manifesting symptoms lasting less than 24 hours, and stroke more than 24 hours. However, it is the pathophysiology and not the timing that is important. The symptoms of a TIA should mimic a stroke. Isolated vertigo or amnesia is unlikely to be due to transient ischaemia or stroke. Transient monocular blindness is common in TIA associated with ipsilateral carotid atheroma, but retinal infarction (i.e stroke in the eye) is rare.

Last edited: 4/12/2003

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