Sudden death and epilepsy

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Brown SW, Mawer GE, Lawler W, Taylor DC, Shorvon S, Betts TA, Noronha MJ, Richens A, Chadwick D, and Besag FM (1990) Sudden death and epilepsy. Lancet 335:8689 606–7.

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  • Letter to the editor highlighting the need for accurate listing of cause of death in epilepsy patients. Also emphasizes the utility of distinguishing sudden death in a patient with epilepsy, regardless of whether it occurred in conjunction with a seizure or immediately following a seizure, from deaths among epilepsy patients due to causes such as drowning or electrocution. The authors take the view that status epilepticus and asphyxiation are uncommon as true causes of death. They question the assessment of AED levels after death as a reflection of antemortem levels. The advocate the use of ‘epilepsy’ as a cause of death in such cases lacking strong anatomical evidence for asphyxiation or other cause.