A 42-year-old black man, a physician, presented with a three week history of intermittent right arm and leg numbness and weakness, lasting about five minutes. This was not associated with headache, visual changes, seizures, aphasia or loss of consciousness. There was no history of head trauma, migraines, or previous attacks. Positive findings on physical examination were confined to a blood pressure of 182/80; evidence of hypertensive retinopathy; normal carotid pulses without bruits; and a Grade II/VI systolic ejection murmur with normal sinus rhythm. Initial hematocrit was 25.7%; white blood cell count 14,000 cu/mm with a normal differential; platelet count 532,000 cu/mm. An electrocardiogram showed left ventricular hypertrophy. Duplex scan demonstrated normal carotid bifurcations bilaterally, and arteriogram revealed no carotid or intracranial pathology. Hemoglobin electrophoresis revealed sickle cell disease of the SS type. He was treated with transfusion therapy and has remained asymptomatic at 40 months. Approximately 20% of children with the SS type sickle cell disease will have cerebrovascular symptoms caused by small intracranial artery occlusion due to sludging of the abnormal hemoglobin. This, unusual cause of transient ischemic attacks can occur in older patients of African-American ancestry and must be recognized to enable early and effective therapy with exchange transfusion.
- Transient ischemic attacks
- sickle cell disease
- transfusion therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine