People living with epilepsy are three times more likely to die prematurely than the general population (1). Among deaths attributable to epilepsy or seizures, important and possibly preventable causes include: SUDEP, status epilepticus, unintentional injuries, and suicide. In recent years, researchers have recommended that epilepsy-related deaths be categorized as following:
Current data suggest that more than 6,000 people die each year in the U.S. from epilepsy. However, these estimates are considered low due to poor surveillance data. Under-reporting of epilepsy deaths remains a serious concern.
We do know that premature morality from epilepsy is a significant public health problem that is not adequately understood or addressed. SUDEP alone exacts a serious burden. Comparing years of potential life lost from SUDEP with selected other neurologic diseases, SUDEP ranks second only to stroke. (2)
- Watila MM, Balarabe SA, Ojo O, Keezer MR, Sander JW. Overall and cause-specific premature mortality in epilepsy: a systematic review. Epilepsy Behav. 2018;87:213-25.
- Thurman, Epilepsia. 2014 Oct;55(10):1479-85.doi: 10.1111/epi.12666. Epub 2014 Jun 5