Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (Lhatoo, Langan, Sander)

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Lhatoo SD, Langan Y, and Sander JW (1999) Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. Postgrad Med J 75:890 706–9.

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Abstract: The majority of persons with epilepsy develop lasting remission from seizures, although mortality is significantly greater than that of the age-matched general population. Of the deaths that are thought to be directly related to seizures, sudden unexpected death in epilepsy is probably the commonest category; more so than status epilepticus or seizure-related accidents. Annual incidence rates vary from 1 in 200 patients with chronic epilepsy to about 1 in 1000 in more population-based studies. Young adults with severe, intractable epilepsy appear to be the most frequently affected group and may have even higher incidence rates. Other risk factors may also be important. An area of great research interest, several pathogenetic mechanisms have been postulated, centering mainly around cardiac rhythm and central hypoventilation. Given the frequent devastation caused by sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, the importance of seizure control is emphasised.

Keywords: epilepsy, sudden death


  • Review of incidence and risk factors.


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