Unexpected death in young epileptics

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Hirsch CS and Martin DL (1971) Unexpected death in young epileptics. Neurology 21:7 682–90.

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  • Retrospective study of 55 cases representing all coroner’s autopsies of patients aged 6-30 with the cause of death certified as epilepsy from one county over 19 year period. Provides seizure type, clinical exam, and EEG findings for each patient for whom clinical history was available. 8 of these deaths were witnessed. 4 occurred in connection with ‘grand mal’ seizure. The other 4 patients died suddenly essentially without seizure. Of note, all 4 individuals collapsed while walking or after more strenous exercise. The authors discuss the role of sleep in facilitating epileptiform activity, comment on the autonomic changes in seizure.