Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy

by eflem3 on November 5, 2013 - 12:04am

Among those with Epilepsy, the chance of unexpected death is much greater than those of the general population.  It is so prevalent that it has its own title, SUDEP, Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy.  Hesdorffer and Tomson study the subject of how antiepileptic drugs (AED) can play a role in SUDEP, either positive or negative.  It is unknown whether antiepileptic drugs actually change the risk of SUDEP; this article looks at different studies that have looked at different SUDEP causes.  Some of these studies found that GTCS (generalized tonic–clonic seizures) was in fact associated with the increased rate of SUDEP.  GTCS means that a person has to use AEDs’ so both factors need to be taken into consideration when determining the increased risk of SUDEP.  Some studies hint that AEDS such as lamotrigine and carbamazepine increase the risk of SUDEP.  Then there are contradicting studies that say that AEDs decrease the risk of SUDEP.  Many studies have determined that AEDS are not directly associated with SUDEP.  “The meta-analysis suggests that SUDEP can be prevented by seizure control and that AED polytherapy is protective for the occurrence of SUDEP in patients with refractory epilepsy.”  This evidence helps people understand the importance of seizure control to prevent SUDEP.

                The main point of this article is to make people aware of things that can cause SUDEP.  SUDEP is a very serious and devastating event that is very prevalent in those that have epilepsy.  The article wants to make it known that sudden death is a very realistic possibility, and that it can be caused by medicine that should be helping epilepsy.  I think that the author is really looking at the consequences of not knowing about SUDEP.  He is looking at the fact that you may think you are helping your disease by taking medicine but that these medicines could actually kill you.  SUDEP is a very serious and unpredictable event that should be shared with everyone.  I think that the major implication of this article is that people need to be aware.  If you don’t take the time to educate yourself then things could go very wrong.  Hesdorffer stated, “This information provides guidance for physicians and emphasizes the need for seizure control to prevent SUDEP.”  A cure or diagnosis may not exist for SUDEP but simple knowledge about possible causes could save someone’s life.  This is how I think that the author views it, as a disease that needs to be taken more seriously and can try to be prevented.  I agree with the author because I personally know someone that died from SUDEP and I think things may have been different had we known more about it.      

Hesdorffer, D. (2013).  Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy Potential Role of Antiepileptic Drugs. CNS Drugs, (27)113–119.


This is a great article. I personally have experienced the trauma of having a seizure. My mother was diagnosed with epilepsy a year ago and I also have had many seizures myself. It is very important to educate yourself on the medicines you will be placed on. You should not be placed on a medicine you are not comfortable with and certainly uninformed about. It is import to take control and take it upon yourself to learn more. I feel however it is crucially important to be on some form of medication if you are diagnosed with epilepsy. When I was first placed on medication I was not interested due to the side effects they may cause however after researching medications we did find one that did not display major side effects. Not being on a medication can put not only yourself in danger but also the ones around you. If you are driving and you have an episode you could kill yourself along with others on the road. It is important to realize the harm you could cause if you are not on medication however it is also important to understand the side effects of the medication and find one that you are comfortable with.