New AAN-AES guidelines on sudden unexpected death in epilepsy

Health Care Comments Off

The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and the American Epilepsy Society (AES) have jointly developed a new guideline on SUDEP or sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. SUDEP is the term used when a patient with epilepsy, who is otherwise healthy, dies suddenly without any known cause.

• SUDEP is rare in children, affecting just one in 4,500 children every year. It is also uncommon in adults, typically affecting one in 1,000 adults every year.
• Generalized tonic-clonic seizures are a major risk factor for SUDEP.
• SUDEP is more likely in patient with frequent generalized tonic-clonic seizures. People with ≥ 3 episodes of generalized tonic-clonic seizures in a year are 15 times more likely to die suddenly vs people who have ≤ 3 generalized tonic-clonic seizures per year.
• The guidelines stress on education about the condition for both physicians and patients with epilepsy. Patients should be informed that controlling seizures, especially tonic-clonic seizures, may reduce the risk of SUDEP. They should be encouraged to take their medications on time, not miss a dose and to learn and manage their seizure triggers to reduce frequency of seizures.
• The guideline shows that being free of seizures, particularly tonic-clonic seizures, is strongly associated with a decreased risk of SUDEP.

These guidelines were presented at the ongoing 69th AAN Annual Meeting in Boston and simultaneously published online April 24, 2017 in the journal Neurology.

(Source: AAN, Press Release, April 24, 2017)

Dr KK Aggarwal
National President IMA & HCFI