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Epilepsia. 2002 Sep;43(9):1076-83.

Morbidity and accidents in patients with epilepsy: results of a European cohort study.

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Centro Regionale per l'Epilessia e Clinica Neurologica, Università di Milano-bicocca, Monza, Italy.



To assess the risk of illnesses and accidents in patients with epilepsy and to evaluate the proportion of those risks attributable to epilepsy.


Nine hundred fifty-one referral patients with idiopathic, cryptogenic, or remote symptomatic epilepsy and 909 matched controls (relatives or friends) were followed up prospectively for 1-2 years in eight European countries (Italy, Germany, Holland, England, Portugal, Russia, Estonia, and Slovenia). Each patient and control received a diary to keep notes regarding any illness or accident. Patients with epilepsy specifically recorded relations with seizures.


Six hundred forty-four patients recorded 2,491 illnesses compared with 1,665 illnesses in 508 controls. The cumulative probability of illness in patients was 49% by 12 months and 86% by 24 months (controls, 39 and 75%; p < 0.0001). One hundred ninety-nine patients and 124 controls had 270 and 140 accidents, respectively. The cumulative probability of accident in the cases was 17 and 27% by 12 and 24 months (controls, 12 and 17%; p < 0.0001). The chance of two or more illnesses or accidents was modestly but significantly greater in the patients. Illnesses and accidents were mostly trivial. Thirty percent of illnesses and 24% of accidents were seizure related. When illnesses and accidents related to seizures were excluded, the chance of illnesses and accidents was fairly similar in the two groups.


Patients with idiopathic, cryptogenic, or remote symptomatic epilepsy have a moderately higher risk of illnesses and accidents than do the general population. With few exceptions, the events are trivial. When seizure-related events are excluded, patients with epilepsy are not at any significantly higher risk of illnesses and accidents.

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