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Prone Sleep Position Tied to Higher Mortality in Epilepsy

Higher risk found in those younger than 40

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 21, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Prone sleeping may boost risk of sudden death in epilepsy, with higher risk for patients younger than 40, new research suggests. The findings were published online Jan. 21 in Neurology.

James Tao, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of neurology at the University of Chicago, and colleagues reviewed 25 previously published studies that detailed 253 sudden, unexplained deaths of epilepsy patients for whom information was available on body position at time of death.

The researchers found that 73 percent of the patients died while sleeping in a prone position. In a subgroup of 88 cases, those younger than age 40 were four times more likely to have died in a prone sleeping position than the older people. In all, 86 percent of those younger than 40 and 60 percent of those over 40 were prone when found dead.

Based on the findings, people with epilepsy should not sleep in a prone position, Tao told HealthDay. People with epilepsy should try to sleep on their side or back and ask their bed partner to remind them. Using wrist watches and bed alarms designed to detect seizures during sleep may also help prevent sudden death, he said.

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