Young adults more prone to die of epilepsy: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on May 25, 2020

The researchers in Scotland found that 60 per cent of these patients had one or more seizure-related or epilepsy-related hospital admission in the years prior to death

A new study presented on Sunday at the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Virtual Congress revealed that young adults are more prone to epilepsy-related deaths.

This is highly common among 16-24 year olds, as they have a six-fold increased risk of such deaths, as per the Eureka Alert’s official release.

The research found that mortality rates for epilepsy-related deaths did not decrease between 2009 (6.8 per 100,000) and 2015 (9.1 per 100,000), despite advances in treatment during this time.

Epilepsy is a chronic non-communicable disease of the brain. Around 50 million people globally are suffering from the disease, making it one of the most common neurological diseases worldwide.

It can cause seizures or periods of confusion in patients, which can either occur randomly or from triggers, such as a lack of sleep, stress or drinking alcohol. In many cases, people with epilepsy suffer from negative stigma and discrimination.

Young adult patients, who are in their early 20s and 30s, were found to be at the highest risk, with 78 per cent of epilepsy-related deaths under the age of 55 years classified as potentially avoidable.

The researchers in Scotland gathered anonymous data from healthcare set-ups for patients that died between 2009 and 2016, identifying 2,149 epilepsy-related deaths.

60 per cent of these patients (1,276) had one or more seizure-related or epilepsy-related hospital admission in the years prior to death, yet less than a quarter (516) were seen in a neurology clinic.

The most common causes of death within the study were sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), aspiration pneumonia, cardiac arrest, congenital malformation, and alcohol-related deaths.

Dr Gashirai Mbizvo, completing this Scottish Epilepsy Deaths Study (SEDS) at The University of Edinburgh, stated in an official statement: “ Epilepsy patients are at a higher risk of early death than the general population, but reasons for this are unclear. We hope that we can use this data to learn lessons and reduce the burden of epilepsy-related deaths in the future, many of which we believe are likely to be avoidable. Highlighting such risk factors, and identifying those that could be prevented, might lead to changes in epilepsy care and, ultimately, fewer epilepsy-related deaths in the future.”

Published on May 25, 2020

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