Predicting Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy

Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is a devastating and underrecognized cause of death in people with epilepsy. It can be a difficult subject to discuss. It can be even more difficult to predict. Previous studies have identified generally how often it occurs. These studies have also revealed some important factors that may put people with epilepsy at a higher risk of SUDEP. It is estimated that there are 1.2 cases of SUDEP per 1,000 people with epilepsy per year.1 Researchers have also found that SUDEP occurs most often in those with ongoing, uncontrolled seizures.2 These studies were done by evaluating various large populations of patients with epilepsy. Although this is useful information, it does not allow neurologists to accurately predict a patient’s individual risk of SUDEP. A reliable and useful tool that neurologists could use for this purpose in their clinical offices has not yet been developed.

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