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Epilepsy Survey Results: People Don't Die From Epilepsy?

There are many misconceptions and much ignorance still persists about epilepsy.  One of these misconceptions is that epilepsy is now perfectly curable with all the new medications that exist and that it is not dangerous to have epilepsy.  However, this is not fully true and there are some very important facts that must be understood about epilepsy and its risks.

People Don't Die From Epilepsy? True or false

At the time the voting closed, we had 76 votes and what we saw is that most participants were well aware of the dangers of epilepsy because the answers were as follows:

17% answered no

83% answered yes

Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) is believed to be the cause of approximately 10% of seizure related deaths.

Who is at risk for SUDEP?
Although all patients with Epilepsy are at some risk for SUDEP, research suggests several populations of patients who are at increased risk. These include patients with a long history of poorly controlled seizures. Patients with generalized tonic-clonic seizures ‘Grand Mal’ are at increased risk as opposed to other types of seizures such as absence ‘Petit Mal’ seizures or complex partial ‘psychomotor’ seizures. SUDEP also appears to typically affect younger individuals with epilepsy. Approximately 75% of all SUDEP deaths occur in individuals between 20 to 50 years of age. Children, have a relatively low risk of SUDEP.

What are the causes?
Several theories exist as to the cause of SUDEP. These typically center on the interruption of either cardiac or respiratory function during or following a seizure event. Possible causes include cardiac arrest or arrhythmias induced by signals from the seizing brain or poor oxygenation as the result of deficient respiratory drive. Additionally, decreased awareness following a seizure could lead to suffocation similar to that seen in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

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