We conducted a meta-analysis of the incidence of early and late seizures following ischemic stroke as well as a systematic review of their pharmacologic treatment.


Observational studies that reported incidence of seizures following ischemic stroke and those that reported treatment response to any particular antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) were included. Risk of bias was assessed by predefined study characteristics. Random effects meta-analysis was conducted for all studies where data were available for the incidence of early and late stroke-related seizures. Heterogeneity was measured with I2 statistic and sensitivity analyses were performed using prespecified variables. A qualitative synthesis of studies reporting use of AEDs for stroke-related seizures was performed.


Forty-one studies from 10,554 articles were identified; 35 studies reported incidence of stroke-related seizures and 6 studies reported effects of specific AEDs. Most studies were of low to moderate quality. Rate of early seizures was 3.3% (95% confidence interval 2.8%–3.9%, I2 = 92.8%), while the incidence of late seizures or epilepsy was 18 per 1,000 person-years (95% confidence interval 1.5–2.2, I2 = 94.1%). The high degree of heterogeneity could not be explained from the sensitivity analyses. For management of stroke-related seizures, no single AED was found to be more effective over others, though newer AEDs were associated with fewer side effects.


The burden of stroke-related seizures and epilepsy due to ischemic stroke is substantial. Further studies are required to determine risk factors for epilepsy following ischemic stroke and optimal secondary prevention.


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