Drop attack

The Drop attack - A brief disturbance that affects the nervous system, causing a person to fall to the ground without warning. Unlike in fainting, the person may not lose consciousness, but injuries can occur from the fall. Elderly women make up the group most commonly affected.

The causes are not fully understood, but they may be a form of transient ischaemic attack (TIA) in which there is a fall in blood flow to nerve centres in the brainstem. Elderly men may have a drop attack while passing urine or while standing, possibly due to low blood pressure or an abrupt alteration in heart rhythm. Akinetic seizures (a rare form of epilepsy) are also sometimes described as drop attacks; the sufferer falls to the ground but does not have muscular spasms.

There is no treatment for drop attacks in elderly people. Akinetic seizures usually respond to anticonvulsant drugs.


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