Friday, October 17, 2014

Few Neurologists Discuss Death Risk With Epileptic Patients

SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy) is a very real tragedy that happens to people with epilepsy. It's very sad to read story after story about SUDEP and it's one that our neurologists don't mention at all or not enough. I suppose they don't want to worry the parents or the patient but for me, I'd rather know what risk I face than to be in the dark. According to a new article, it's not discussed because the risk is low and there are no known prevention techniques.

Here are some of the key points from the article:

David J. Thurman, MD, adjunct professor of neurology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues used pooled data from three level 2 studies (reasonably good sensitivity of case ascertainment, reasonably high positive predictive value, and relatively low risk of bias) to calculate a crude rate of 0.81 cases of SUDEP annually per 100,000 in the general population.

Assuming an overall epilepsy prevalence of 7.1 per 100,000 (from a separate 2007 systematic review of epilepsy occurrence in high-income countries), they estimated a crude annual incidence of 1.16 SUDEP cases per 1000 people with epilepsy.

According to Dr Thurman's paper, reported cases of SUDEP were highest in the third and fourth decades of life, with rates declining markedly in the sixth decade. Few cases were reported in the first decade of life.

Using population statistics, Dr Thurman estimated that in 2013, SUDEP resulted in 2750 deaths in the United States and 3994 deaths in the 28 nations of the European Union. These numbers, said the authors, are far smaller than deaths reported for Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and even Parkinson's disease.

To read more, click here on risks of SUDEP.

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