Sudden epilepsy-related deaths ‘could be preventable’

Posted May 6 2014 in Statistics; treatment in the UK

A new UK-based population study has suggested that more could be done to prevent sudden unexpected deaths caused by epilepsy (SUDEP).

Currently, the risk of sudden epilepsy-related deaths tends to be underestimated by healthcare professionals, with a lack of evidence for any protective interventions making it difficult to take proactive action.

As such, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust inspected 93 cases of epilepsy and epilepsy-associated deaths which occurred in Cornwall between 2004 and 2012, with 48 cases meeting the criteria for SUDEP.

It was observed that most of the people with the condition experienced increases in seizure frequency or intensity in the six months prior to death, while the majority did not have an epilepsy specialist review in the year before mortality.

This was the first large-scale review of UK SUDEP deaths since 2005, with researchers concluding that fatalities of this kind could be preventable with better monitoring.

Currently, it is estimated that SUDEP occurs in one in every 1,000 people with epilepsy. It remains an area that requires further research.

Posted by Anne Brown

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