The team, from Royal Perth Hospital’s Department of Neurology, analyzed the medical records of 1008 people who were admitted to hospital after experiencing a seizure for the first time between 2000 and 2011.
Of the 139 patients who were 65 or over at the onset of epilepsy symptoms, just 53 per cent had a second seizure within a year of admission – only slightly higher a proportion than in younger patients, for whom the likelihood was 48 per cent.
According to researchers, this upturns existing preconceptions about epilepsy in the elderly.
“Anti-epileptic drug treatment following [the] first seizure is often recommended in older adults due to the perception that recurrence is inevitable and associated with significant morbidity,” they commented.
The study also found that elderly patients were less likely to suffer seizure-related injuries in both the presenting seizure and the first recurrence.
Treatment, therefore, should be based on “established risk factors” rather than age, the authors concluded.