Cerebrovascular risk factors and triggers in transient global amnesia patients with and without jugular valve incompetence: results from a sample of 243 patients

Eur Neurol. 2010;63(5):291-4. doi: 10.1159/000292502. Epub 2010 Apr 22.


Background/aims: Different etiologies for transient global amnesia (TGA) have been proposed, such as venous flow abnormalities, spreading depression and migraine-related mechanisms like focal ischemia. Jugular vein valve incompetence (JVI) is commonly described in TGA patients, but its contributing role in TGA pathogenesis is still unknown. We investigated the possible relationship between JVI and pathogenetic mechanisms in TGA.

Methods: 243 TGA patients underwent clinical and neurological assessment. Demographic characteristics, TGA-precipitating factors and vascular comorbidities were carefully recorded. In each patient, JVI was assessed by Doppler ultrasonography.

Results: TGA patients were grouped according to the presence (n = 171, 70.4%) or absence (n = 72, 29.6%) of JVI. TGA patients with JVI showed a higher presence of precipitating factors, namely a Valsalva-like maneuver (JVI-positive vs. JVI-negative, 35.8 vs. 17.1%, p = 0.004) and emotional stress (36.6 vs. 21.4%, p = 0.023), but had fewer vascular comorbidities, namely hypertension (37.2 vs. 51.4%, p = 0.047) and carotid arteriosclerosis (20.5 vs. 31.9%, p = 0.050).

Conclusions: These findings support the argument for the existence of at least 2 different TGA-associated mechanisms defined by JVI. On the one hand, JVI associated with a Valsalva-like maneuver and emotional stress supported the venous blood congestion hypothesis, and on the other, the JVI-negative group may have another vascular basis, unrelated to venous congestion.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amnesia, Transient Global / diagnostic imaging
  • Amnesia, Transient Global / epidemiology
  • Amnesia, Transient Global / physiopathology*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / epidemiology
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diagnostic imaging
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Jugular Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Jugular Veins / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnostic imaging
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler
  • Valsalva Maneuver / physiology