Heart rate fluctuations ‘could predict seizures in children with epilepsy’

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A new study has suggested that heart rate variability could be used as a means of predicting seizures among children with epilepsy.

The Turkish study, which appeared in the May 2014 issue of the medical journal Seizure, aimed to assess whether children with refractory epilepsy have abnormalities of autonomic nervous system functioning that could be linked to the increased risk of sudden unexpected death seen in the patient group.

To investigate this, the team looked at 20 children with refractory epilepsy, compared with 20 youngsters with well-controlled epilepsy and 20 healthy children, assessing heart rate variability via ECG monitoring.

It was found that the patients with uncontrolled epilepsy tended to experience greater heart rate fluctuations than those in the control groups, particularly during and before seizures.

The study concluded: “It is possible that heart rate variability parameter arising prior to seizures could be used to predict future seizures.”

Refractory epilepsy is the term given to describe forms of the condition that cannot be adequately controlled using conventional medicines. Around one-third of epilepsy patients fall into this category.

Posted by Anne Brown