October 23rd is Sudden Unexpected Death due to Epilepsy Awareness Day. (SUDEP)
Epilepsy can be a cause of death. SUDEP is the leading cause of death in patients with epilepsy! More than 1 out of 1,000 people with epilepsy die from SUDEP. If seizures are uncontrolled, the risk increases to 1 out of 150. This effects young adults with uncontrolled epilepsy more than children. With research the probable causes of death in SUDEP are problems breathing, heart rhythm, and the function of the brain that occurs during a seizure.
Current research into the possible causes of SUDEP is focusing on problems with breathing, heart rhythm and brain function that occur with a seizure.
The criteria used to determine whether a death is due to SUDEP are:
- The person has epilepsy, which is defined as recurrent unprovoked seizures.
- The person died unexpectedly while in a reasonable state of health.
- The death occurred suddenly and during normal activity (often during sleep).
- An obvious medical cause of death could not be determined at autopsy.
- The death was not the direct result of status epilepticus.
More information about SUDEP can be found at, http://www.dannydid.org/epilepsy-sudep/about-sudep/ and http://www.dannydid.org/assets/1/6/SUDEP-Media-Backgrounder1.pdf.
I knew three people that died because of SUDEP. More research is needed for epilepsy. There are more people affected with Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and muscular dystrophy than epilepsy.
For more information about risk factors and prevention, check the Danny Did Foundation’s web site. http://www.dannydid.org/about-us/