Temporal trends of epilepsy in multiple sclerosis

Objectives

Epilepsy is associated with advanced multiple sclerosis (MS). We aimed to investigate whether the incidence of epilepsy in MS has been affected by the introduction of disease-modifying treatments (DMT) for MS.

Materials and methods

This retrospective study included 14,557 patients from the Swedish MS register with MS onset between 1991 and 2018. Incident diagnoses of epilepsy or any seizure were identified through cross-linkage with the National Patient Register. Next, yearly prevalence of epilepsy as well as 5- and 10 years incidence of epilepsy or any seizure for consecutive years of MS onset were estimated, the latter with Kaplan–Meier analysis. Cox regression was used to adjust the association between the year of MS onset and incidence of epilepsy for baseline variables.

Results

Prevalence of epilepsy in the MS cohort increased from 0.34% in 1991 to 2.54% in 2018 (yearly odds: 1.26 [1.22, 1.29]). The 5 years incidence rate of epilepsy, ranging from 0.4% (95% CI 0.008–0.79%) to 1.3% (95% CI 0.71–1.89%), and the 10 years incidence rate of epilepsy, ranging from 1.1% (95% CI 0.31–1.88%) to 2.6% (95% CI 1.22–3.97%) showed no significant trends (p = .147 and p = .418, respectively). Similarly, no significant trends were found for the incidences of any seizure. The incidence trends of epilepsy remained not significant after adjusting for sex, MS onset type (relapsing or progressive onset), or age at MS onset.

Conclusions

Our findings do not support the hypothesis that the introduction of novel DMT for MS has reduced the incidence of epilepsy among MS patients.

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