Transient Global Amnesia

Your exam shows you may have a rare problem that causes temporary amnesia, an inability to remember what has happened in the past several hours or day. Transient global amnesia (TGA) means you cannot remember recent events, even though you may look and act normally. There are no physical problems in TGA; your vision, strength, coordination, and sensations are all normal. TGA occurs most often in older patients, and in patients with high blood pressure. The exact cause of TGA is not known, although it is thought to be due to vascular disease in your brain.

There is usually a complete return to normal memory capacity after an episode is over. About 20-30% of patients with TGA will have more than one episode, and some studies show a slight increased risk for stroke. Although no special treatment is needed, taking up to one adult aspirin daily reduces the risk of having a stroke. You should consider taking aspirin daily if you are not allergic to it. Medical evaluation may require specialized scans to check for stroke or other brain problems, an EEG (brain wave test), or blood tests.

Avoid alcohol or any sedating medicines until you are completely recovered. Call your doctor right away if your memory is not fully recovered after 24 hours, or if you have any other serious problems including:

  • Severe headache, nausea, vomiting, fever, or other symptoms of an infection.

  • Weakness, numbness, difficulty with movement, or incoordination.

  • Blurred or double vision, unusual sleepiness, seizures, or fainting.