Panic attacks ‘can help differentiate epileptic and non-epileptic seizures’

Posted Aug 1 2014 in Brain science; genetics

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Analysis of panic attack symptoms could represent a new method of differentiating between epileptic and non-epileptic seizures.

Currently, psychogenic non-epileptic spells (PNES) are challenging to differentiate from epileptic seizures, but a new retrospective analysis of 354 patients diagnosed with PNES from the University of Pittsburgh has suggested that panic attacks could hold the key.

A statistically higher mean number of symptoms reported during PNES events was observed compared with those with epilepsy.

Heart palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, choking feelings, chest discomfort, dizziness/unsteadiness, depersonalisation, fear of dying, paresthesias and chills or hot flashes were all shown to be significantly more frequent in those with PNES.

“As patients with PNES frequently have poor clinical outcomes, treatment addressing the anxiety symptomatology may be beneficial,” the researchers concluded.

It is important to ensure that PNES is properly diagnosed and differentiated from epilepsy, as a failure to do so can lead to patients receiving inappropriate treatments.

Posted by Steve Long

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