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Medication Adherence Key to Epilepsy Treatment

In assessing the effectiveness of prescribed medication there is a strong emphasis on the ability of the patient to adhere to the regime recommended by the clinician. For individuals with epilepsy, adherence to medication is crucial in preventing or minimizing seizures and their cumulative impact on everyday life. Non-adherence to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) can result in breakthrough seizures many months or years after a previous episode and can have serious repercussions on an individual’s perceived quality of life. Reasons for non-adherence are complex and multilayered. Patients can accidentally fail to adhere through forgetfulness, misunderstanding, or uncertainty about clinician’s recommendations, or intentionally due to their own expectations of treatment, side-effects, and lifestyle ...

More Than a Third of Patients Do Not Respond to Antiepileptics

More than one-third of patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy do not respond to treatment with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), according to a study published online Dec. 26 in JAMA Neurology.   Zhibin Chen, PhD, from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues conducted a longitudinal observational cohort study to assess long-term outcomes in 1,795 patients with newly diagnosed and treated epilepsy. Patients were followed for a minimum of two years or until death.

Nearly Half of Persons With Epilepsy Forget to Take Their Meds at Least Once a Month, Poll Shows

Almost half of epilepsy patients surveyed in a British poll say they’ve forgotten to take their medications at least once in the past month. Researchers at Epilepsy Research UK wanted to know how meticulously people receiving their newsletter adhere to medication regimes. They stress, however, that these results pertain to a sample of 125 respondents and that the poll is still active. Medication adherence is an important healthcare problem worldwide. According to a news release, across all fields of medicine, up to 75 percent of people don’t take their medicines properly. In epilepsy, forgetting to take anti-epileptic drugs could lead to seizures. Respondents were asked to estimate for themselves how many times in the last month they had forgotten to take their medication at all – or had t...

Antiepileptic Drug Changes May Negatively Impact Emotions

An epilepsy patient’s emotional well-being may be negatively impacted when changes are made to their antiepileptic drug (AED) regimen. These are the findings from a study published online in the journal Epilepsy and Behavior. In order to understand how AED changes affect patient emotions, researchers asked members of an online epilepsy community to participate in an online survey which consisted of 31 questions that rated their feelings on a recent AED change. In addition to the survey results, comments from epilepsy-related online forums and social media websites where people expressed their experiences with AED changes were also analyzed (termed passive listening statements).

News from the AAN Annual Meeting: Epilepsy Does Not Impact Fertility, New Study Finds

ARTICLE IN BRIEF Women with epilepsy did not have any more problem getting pregnant than healthy controls, investigators reported in a new study Findings from a long-term observational study of women with epilepsy trying to get pregnant and age-matched healthy controls found that there are no differences in the time it takes to conceive a child and carry that child to term. The data, based on an analysis from the Women with Epilepsy: Pregnancy Outcomes and Deliveries (WEPOD) study, were presented April 17 at the AAN Annual Meeting in Vancouver.

BREAKTHROUGH: Understanding and Reversing Memory Loss in Epilepsy Patients

New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham identifies an epigenetic cause for why patients with temporal lobe epilepsy tend to have memory loss, and suggests a potential way to reverse that loss. The findings, published in April in the Annals of Translational and Clinical Neurology, indicate the discovery may have implications for many other memory disorders. Patients with temporal lobe epilepsy have a high incidence of memory loss, even when seizures associated with epilepsy are controlled well by medication. The UAB research team targeted the BDNF gene, which is known to play a role in memory formation. The gene produces a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. An epigenetic process called DNA methylation regulates when genes are turned on or off. When turned on...

Study shows epilepsy drug may protect MS patients’ vision

A drug commonly taken to prevent seizures in epilepsy may surprisingly protect the eyesight of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, April 18 to 25, 2015. “About half of people with MS experience at some point in their life a condition called acute optic neuritis, in which the nerve carrying vision from the eye to the brain gets inflamed,” said study author Raj Kapoor, MD, with the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, England. “The condition can cause sudden total or partial blindness, foggy or blackened vision and pain. Even though eyesight can recover eventually, each attack still damages the nerve and the e...

Tadpole model links epilepsy drug’s effects to chromatin

Valproic acid (VPA), an epilepsy drug that increases the risk of autism, may alter neural circuits by opening up chromatin, a tightly packaged form of DNA in the nucleus. Researchers presented the unpublished data today at the 2014 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, D.C. The study looked at the effects of VPA on tadpoles. Tadpoles are useful for studying neural circuits because they are transparent. According to work presented at last year’s Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, tadpoles exposed to VPA do not swim in groups — indicating abnormal social behavior — are highly sensitive to sensory stimuli such as startling sounds and have overly connected and excitable brain circuits. But it’s unclear exactly how VPA exposure leads to these symptoms. VPA has many well-k...

PAIN MANAGEMENT: AAN releases new position statement on opioids for chronic non-cancer pain

According to a new position statement from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), the risk of death, overdose, addiction or serious side effects with prescription opioids outweigh the benefits in chronic, non-cancer conditions such as headache, fibromyalgia and chronic low back pain. The position paper is published in the September 30, 2014, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Opioids, or narcotics, are pain medications including morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone, fentanyl, hydrocodone or a combination of the drugs with acetaminophen.

Combining AED with Morphine May Lead to Better Pain Management and Lower Opioid Doses

Adding a common epilepsy drug to a morphine based pain management regimen can result in better pain control with fewer side effects. Moreover, the combination can reduce the dosage of the opioid needed to be effective, according to a team of pain researchers at Indiana University. The result could bring significant relief to many patients with neuropathic pain, a difficult-to-treat condition often felt in the arms and legs and associated with nerve tissue damage. “There is a huge unmet need for better treatments for neuropathic pain,” said Fletcher A. White, Ph.D., the Vergil K. Stoelting Professor of Anesthesia at the Indiana University School of Medicine. In laboratory tests using rodents, White and his colleagues found that while morphine lost its pain-relieving effectivenes...

How Schools Can Better Prepare For Students With Epilepsy

By Kimberley Wright, Posted by Epilepsy Ontario to Huffington Post Starting school is always an emotional experience. As the mother of a child with epilepsy, it is terrifying! My daughter Journey is a clever, beautiful, 11 year old girl who loves life and all it has to offer. She loves to make people laugh and lives to dance and sing. She loves to swim, climb, swing, and ride her bike. Journey was diagnosed with epilepsy at five months old. We were fortunate that her seizures became well controlled shortly after her diagnosis. When she was four years old, her seizures changed. They became unpredictable, but relatively mild and infrequent until the age of nine. When Journey entered pre-pubescence, she began to have seizures that caused her to suddenly drop to the ground, creating significan...

2 medications equally effective in treating major epileptic brain seizures in children

A recently published clinical study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has answered an urgent question that long puzzled ER pediatricians: Is the drug lorazepam really safer and more effective than diazepam – the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medication as first line therapy most often used by emergency room doctors to control major epileptic seizures in children? The answer to that question – based on a double-blind, randomized clinical trial that compared outcomes in 273 seizure patients, about half of whom were given lorazepam – is a clear-cut “no,” said Prashant V. Mahajan, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A, one of the authors of the study. “The results of our clinical trial were very convincing, and they showed clearly that the two me...

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