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Hong Kong Med J. 2002 Oct;8(5):354-8.

Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

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Department of Neurology, Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, BS6 7AB, United Kingdom.


Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy is the most common category of seizure-related death for patients who develop chronic epilepsy, accounting for up to 17% of epilepsy deaths. Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy is defined as a sudden, unexpected, non-accidental death in an individual with epilepsy with or without evidence of a seizure having occurred (excluding documented status epilepticus) and where autopsy does not reveal an anatomical or toxicological cause of death. Incidence rates range between 0.35 and 2.70 per 1000 person-years in the population-based studies and between 1.50 and 9.30 per 1000 person-years in selected cohorts. Seizure frequency appears to be an important factor in sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, although the exact pathogenetic mechanisms involved are unclear.

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