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Greater Effort Needed to Prevent Epilepsy-Related Mortality

Article suggests need for classification system of deaths from direct and indirect effects of epilepsy

doctor with a female patient

THURSDAY, Dec. 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- The importance of preventing epilepsy-related mortality is highlighted in an article published online Dec. 16 in Neurology.

Noting that epilepsy is associated with a high rate of premature mortality, Orrin Devinsky, M.D., from the New York University School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues discuss factors contributing to the underestimation of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) and other epilepsy-related causes of death.

The authors suggest the need for a classification system for deaths related to epilepsy, including deaths directly related to epilepsy (SUDEP, drowning); deaths related to acute symptomatic seizures; and deaths indirectly related to epilepsy (e.g., suicide, chronic effects of anti-seizure medications). In order to support the development and assessment of preventive interventions, accurate estimation of the frequency of epilepsy-related mortality is essential. Educational interventions and public health campaigns targeting medication adherence, psychiatric comorbidity, and other modifiable risk factors are proposed as methods of potentially reducing epilepsy-related mortality.

"Educational campaigns regarding sudden infant death syndrome and fires, which kill far fewer Americans than epilepsy, have been widely implemented. We have done too little to prevent epilepsy-related deaths," the authors write. "Everyone with epilepsy and everyone who treats people with epilepsy need to know that controlling seizures will save lives."

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

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