All studies report an increased mortality risk for people with epilepsy compared with the general population. Population-based studies have demonstrated that the increased mortality is often related to the cause of the epilepsy. Common etiologies include neoplasia, cerebrovascular disease, and pneumonia. Deaths in selected cohorts, such as sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), status epilepticus (SE), suicides, and accidents are more frequently epilepsy-related. SUDEP is a particular cause for concern in younger people, and whether and when SUDEP should be discussed with patients with epilepsy remain problematic issues. Risk factors for SUDEP include generalized tonic-clonic seizures, increased seizure frequency, concomitant learning disability, and antiepileptic drug polypharmacy. The overall incidence of SE may be increasing, although case fatality rates remain constant. Mortality is frequently secondary to acute symptomatic disorders. Poor compliance with treatment in patients with epilepsy accounts for a small proportion of deaths from SE. The incidence of suicide is increased, particularly for individuals with epilepsy and comorbid psychiatric conditions. Late mortality figures in patients undergoing epilepsy surgery vary and are likely to reflect differences in case selection. Future studies of mortality should be prospective and follow agreed guidelines to better quantify risk and causation in individual populations.
- Status epilepticus
- Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy