Stress and sudden death

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Lathers CM and Schraeder PL (2006) Stress and sudden death. Epilepsy Behav 9:2 236–42.

Link to Article

Abstract: Cardiac patients, psychiatric patients, and certain ethnic groups experiencing acute stressful circumstances are at risk for unexpected sudden death. Although stress is associated with changes in autonomic neural function, its role as a potential risk factor for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is not known. The association of epilepsy with cardiac abnormalities, such as neurogenic arrhythmias and microscopic perivascular and interstitial fibrosis, and with depression and anxiety indicates that emotional stress should be evaluated as a potential risk factor for SUDEP. The impact of adverse emotional states on the autonomic control of cardiac rhythm is a known important factor leading to cardiac dysrhythmias in humans and other species. The interaction between emotional factors and the arrythmogenic potential of epileptiform discharges and the possibility of benefit from stress management intervention need to be investigated.

Keywords: Sudden death; Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy; Epilepsy; Cardiac disease; Psychiatric disorders; Stress; Depression

Context

  • Review of evidence for role of acute stress in sudden death through cardiac mechanisms or through reducing seizure threshold. In SUDEP in young adults the risk factors discussed by these authors could be interwined with alcohol use and noncompliance with AED therapy.

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