SUDEP is the most common “direct epilepsy-related” cause of death in persons with epilepsy. While the risk for is still relatively low for all patients, our understanding of SUDEP is also relatively low.
Researchers in Korea recently conducted and published a study that investigates clinical variables in correlation with SUDEP in order to identify risk factors. Twenty-six SUDEP cases and 78 controls were included in the study.
“The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between clinical variables and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) and identify risk factors for SUDEP. SUDEP is one of the most frequent causes of death in patients with epilepsy.”
The research concludes that people who have more frequent seizures and are on multiple Anti-Epileptic Drugs (AEDs) are at an increased risk for SUDEP. It is important to note that no individual AED was significantly associated with SUDEP, but multiple AEDs regardless of brand were a common risk factor. More summary from Epilepsy Research UK:
A total of 26 instances of SUDEP were compared with three control patients for each case, with seizure frequency shown to be higher in SUDEP cases than in controls.
According to univariate and multivariate analyses published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science, higher seizure frequency and the application of multi-drug therapy were consistently associated with SUDEP.
The researchers said the results “may suggest that the severity of epilepsy is associated with SUDEP, regardless of the type of AED used”.
It is estimated that SUDEP happens to one in every 1,000 people with epilepsy, and it remains a condition that is difficult to predict or prevent. – EpilepsyResearchUK