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Neurology. 2003 Feb 11;60(3):395-9.

Remote symptomatic epilepsy: does seizure severity increase mortality?

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University of California Life Expectancy Project, San Francisco, USA.



To investigate the excess mortality due to remote symptomatic epilepsy, taking account of frequency and type of seizures.


The authors compared mortality in persons with (n = 8,156) and without (n = 72,526) history of epilepsy in a 1988 to 1999 California population of persons with mild developmental disabilities. Subjects had traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, or no identifiable condition. There were 506,204 person-years of data, with 1,523 deaths. Excess death rates and standardized mortality ratios were computed for the persons in the study with epilepsy, relative to those in the study without epilepsy. Controlled comparisons were made using logistic regression on person-years.


Compared to subjects with no epilepsy, the excess mortality was six (deaths per 1,000 persons per year) for persons with a recent (<12 months) history of status epilepticus, five for a recent history of generalized tonic-clonic seizure, three for a recent history of nonconvulsive seizures, and less than one for a history of epilepsy but no recent events. Proportion in remission and excess mortality showed no change over the 12-year study period.


Persistent seizures are associated with increased mortality in remote symptomatic epilepsy. Mortality is highest among individuals with status epilepticus or generalized convulsions.

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