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September 16, 1974

Adams-Stokes Attacks Associated With Hysteria

Author Affiliations

From the Section of Neurology (Dr. Spudis), and the Department of Medicine (Dr. Griffin), Forsyth Memorial Hospital, Winston-Salem, NC.

JAMA. 1974;229(12):1636. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230500054029

A SERIOUS case of heart disease went undetected during 18 months of misadventure because of a confusing mixture of psychogenic convulsions and Adams-Stokes attacks. These may have been more than coincidentally related.

Report of a Case  A 55-year-old female textile worker was admitted in April 1970 with a history of three unusual attacks during the previous nine months. On each occasion, after a sudden failure of vision she became dyspneic and collapsed. Many attacks were associated with climbing stairs or other vigorous movements. Her father had had grand mal epilepsy.The results of her general and neurologic examinations were normal, but when asked to do the Barré test she trembled, fell to the right, and closed her eyes. She was able to remember test phrases and was abruptly alert in two minutes, complaining that this happens when she tries to work. She was discharged with a diagnosis of psychogenic convulsions.