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Have had stroke symptoms. Why is there weakness, numbness in scalp? Why does heart flutter, have angina attacks?

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Hello, I'm a 40 years old woman. For two years I've been experiencing stroke symptoms, that are always preceded by spontaneous squeezing sensations in the head. The squeezes are in a whole range of strength, sometimes affecting the whole brain but usually happening only in one random part of it- at the back, in the centre, on the side, etc. When they're stronger they feel like having my head put in a vice which is then squashed to its limits, except there is no pain. Some of the squeezes happen very fast and feel like hits of a bat, or a bullet entering the brain from the back and moving to the centre.
Strong squeezes cause the following:
-temporary loss of sight (1-2 seconds),
-loss of balance,
-weakness in knees/dropping to the floor,
-face and scalp going numb (needles sensation).
-loss of consciousness (a few times with tunnel vision just before collapsing, and once with a speech coherence problem after I recovered). I regain consciousness immediately after hitting something.

Sometimes the squeezes are weak and feel like somebody is poking at my brain, pressing it. The squeezes feel similar to the blood vessels constriction that is felt when one goes out in the cold or eats a lemon, but they are much stronger, and they're usually more local. The size of the affected area varies with each symptom. The symptoms differ in duration, some happen very fast and others squeeze slowly, growing to include a bigger area.

The strongest symptoms have always happened when I was relaxed. They are not related to the change of position, or the amount of oxygen in the room (I work next to the constantly open window), and don't happen during intense exercise. I'm never breathless. I haven't noticed any connection with the amount of stress I experience.

When I first saw the doctor about it, 2 years ago, losing consciousness was happening every 3 months, and squeezing sensations once in three weeks.
For the last 3 months though I've been experiencing squeezes 3-40 times a day, twice a week I drop to the floor and in the middle of the drop regain the control of my muscles- it looks like stumbling. Losing consciousness is random, always as a result of the strongest squeezes/hits and has happened 7 times in a year.

Sometimes I feel the squeezes every 10 seconds for several hours at a time, and during that time I'm dizzy- at the point of fainting. I get very pale when it happens. After attacks I am left trembling and sweaty- sweat literally flows down my palms in rivers.

Recently I have also experienced squeezes like this in my left eyeball, just behind both eyeballs, in the neck (front left side), and most probably the coronary artery ( a few times I had an angina attack- very strong pain and breathlessness, going away fast, with dull pain remaining spreading to the front and back between the shoulders. But these might also be something else, not necessarily connected with what's happening in my head.

As a new thing I have developed the anxiety response to the squeezes. Immediately after the squeeze starts I feel a panic attack, which feels like a travelling freezing sensation in my veins. This has never happened before the squeeze.

A few other symptoms that might be perhaps connected to the squeezes.

I have discovered surges of pressure. Normally my pressure stayed at a low level of 90-100/ 60-70. For the first time in my life I caught it travelling to 150/85 from 96/60 within half a minute- up and down. I think it's a bit fast pacing for such big changes.

A new thing is feeling strong needles in my hands and feet.

Every now and then I started feeling constant increased pressure in my head. At that time, I can hear a hum, like the sea or sand sprinkled on sand, or hissing- seems to be more high-pitched when I feel higher pressure.

I never experience breathlessness, I'm very active and fit.

Heart Symptoms
Sometimes the heart flutters, regularly skips a bit, waits gathering strength, then beats stronger, or it does a funny roll in my chest, and at the same time I sometimes experience a sharp pain. I've head a few angina attacks. From time to time I also feel dull pain for many hours at a time.

I was using nasal drops oxymetazoline and xylometazoline for 20 years. Could they have caused this? I stopped using them 2.5 months ago but the symptoms haven't improved.

I have had following TESTS done:
2 years ago I was referred by a GP to a neurologist. I had:
-7 mins long head MRI 1.5years ago- was ok (is it reliable if it's so short and no contrast was used?)

The neurologist then referred me to the cardiology. I had:
- Holter 48h and Holter 7 days. Although I recorded a few medium and strong symptoms (but no blackout) they were not reflected in the heart's rhythm. Sinus arrythmia/variations on sinus rhythm, otherwise fine.
- echocardiogram- my right chamber was a bit dilated but otherwise fine.
-24h urine collection test for metanephrines that excluded pheochromocytoma (is it reliable?)- it was OK.
Now I'm discharged from cardiology. What should I do?
Posted Tue, 5 Jun 2012 in Headache and Migraines
Answered by Dr. Pratap Sanchetee 1 hour later
Thanks for writing in.
I have gone through details provided by you. While some of your symptoms suggest transient ischemia to the brain, other symptoms are suggestive of anxiety or panic attacks. In view of frequent attacks, your doctor may consider doppler study of carotid arteries, MR angiogram of brain and blood test for atherosclerosis and general profile. A blood sugar estimation, thyroid function tests and EEG may also be done. Only a diffusion weighted MRI can diagnose a transient ischemic attack during which the blood supply to the brain is reduced. Its reliability in detecting your symptoms would depend on whether it was a diffusion weighted MRI or not. A 24 hour urinary metanephrine evaluation can reasonably exclude pheochromocytoma. It is unlikely that the nasal drops that you have been using have caused your symptoms.
Your doctor may consider antiplatelet drugs and anti-anxiety drugs.
Hope you get better soon
Dr. Pratap
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