Infrequent Seizures May Not Need Swift Drug Treatment

Study finds no long-term benefit for those with epilepsy

FRIDAY, June 10, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Delaying treatment with anti-epileptic drugs may be the best option for people who suffer infrequent seizures, a new British study suggests.

The study of 1,400 people concluded that giving immediate treatment to people with single or infrequent seizures doesn't reduce their risk of long-term seizure recurrence and that delaying medication treatment doesn't increase their risk of chronic epilepsy.

The study participants were divided into two groups -- half received immediate treatment and half received no drug until their doctor agreed that treatment was necessary. Immediate drug treatment reduced short-term seizure recurrence, but had no impact on long-term recurrence. Compared to those in the deferred treatment group, the people who received immediate treatment had more adverse effects that were likely treatment-related, the study found.

The quality of life for both groups was the same.

"We have sought to quantify precisely benefits in terms of seizure control, to improve the quality of information available to support clinicians and patients in making decisions about treatment options," Professor David Chadwick, of the University of Liverpool, said in a prepared statement.

"We have shown that a policy of immediate treatment with anti-epileptic drugs, mainly with carbamazepine or valproate, reduces the occurrence of seizures in the next one to two years, but does not modify rates of long-term remission after a first or after several seizures. At two years, the benefits of improved seizure control with immediate treatment seem to be balanced by the unwanted effects of drug treatment and there is no improvement in measures of quality of life," Chadwick said.

The study appears in the June 11 issue of The Lancet.

More information

The Epilepsy Foundation has more about epilepsy.

SOURCE: The Lancet news release, June 9, 2005
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