The other side of the coin: Beneficiary effect of omega-3 fatty acids in sudden unexpected death in epilepsy

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Scorza FA, Cysneiros RM, Arida RM, Terra-Bustamante VC, de Albuquerque M, and Cavalheiro EA (2008) The other side of the coin: Beneficiary effect of omega-3 fatty acids in sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav 13:2 279–83.

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Abstract: The epilepsies are the most common serious neurological condition. People with epilepsy have a two- to threefold increased risk of dying prematurely than those without epilepsy, and the most common epilepsy-related category of death is sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). The exact pathophysiological causes of SUDEP remain unknown, but it is very probable that cardiac arrhythmia during and between seizures plays a potential role. Although the pharmacological treatments available for the epilepsies have expanded, antiepileptic drugs are still limited in clinical efficacy. In this regard, several factors such as genetic, environmental, and social can contribute to the inefficacy of therapeutic outcome in patients with epilepsy. Among these factors, nutritional aspects, that is, omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, have an interesting role in this scenario. Animal and clinical studies have demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids may be useful in the prevention and treatment of epilepsy. Moreover, as omega-3 fatty acids per se have been shown to reduce cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac deaths, it has been proposed that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in patients with refractory seizures may reduce seizures and seizure-associated cardiac arrhythmias and, hence, SUDEP. Given their relative safety and general health benefits, our update article summarizes the knowledge of the role of dietary omega-3 fatty acids in epilepsy.

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