SUDEP counseling: Where do we stand?
Robyn Whitney, Kevin C. Jones, Suvasini Sharma, Rajesh RamachandranNair
Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the leading cause of epilepsy-related death in children and adults living with epilepsy. Several recent clinical practice guidelines have recommended that all individuals living with epilepsy and their caregivers be informed about SUDEP as a part of routine epilepsy counseling. Furthermore, several studies over the last two decades have explored the state of SUDEP counseling. Patients with epilepsy and their families want to be informed about the risk of SUDEP at or near the time of diagnosis, and preferably in person. Despite guideline recommendations, many pediatric and adult neurologists do not routinely inform individuals with epilepsy and their families about SUDEP. Some neurologists discuss SUDEP with only a subset of patients with epilepsy, such as those with risk factors like frequent generalized or focal to bilateral tonic–clonic seizures, nocturnal seizures, noncompliance, or medically refractory epilepsy. Proponents of routine SUDEP counseling argue that patients with epilepsy and their families have a “right to know” and that counseling may positively impact epilepsy self-management (i.e., behavioral modification and risk reduction). Some neurologists still believe that SUDEP counseling may cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for patients and their families (although this is erroneous) and that they also have a “right not to know.” This narrative review explores the current gaps in SUDEP counseling, patients’ and caregivers’ perspectives of SUDEP counseling, and SUDEP prevention.
Read the full article in Epilepsia.