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Epilepsy Res. 2006 Jan;68(1):1-8. Epub 2005 Dec 5.

Antiepileptic drug use and epileptic seizures in elderly nursing home residents: a survey in the province of Pavia, Northern Italy.

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I.R.C.C.S. C. Mondino Institute of Neurology Foundation, via Mondino 2, 27100 Pavia, Italy.


Some surveys indicate that elderly nursing home residents are extensively prescribed antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Few studies have evaluated the prevalence of seizure-related diagnoses as a risk factor for AED administration in nursing homes. To assess the prevalence of AED use and of epileptic seizures in the elderly nursing home residents in our country, we considered age and gender data, functional status (measured by the Barthel's Index), drugs currently administered on a scheduled basis, clinical diagnoses from the patient's chart including possible history of epileptic seizures, of all subjects aged 60 years and over living in 21 federated nursing homes in the province of Pavia, Northern Italy. Data relating to 2.001 subjects (77.5 % females) were collected over a 4-month period (September-December 2000). Eighty-seven of the 2.001 residents (4.3%; 5.3% of all the males and 4.0% of all the females) were taking AEDs and 58 (3.5% of all the males and 2.7% of all the females), all of them under treatment with at least one AED, had epileptic seizures in their history. Both these subgroups had a mean modified Barthel's Index score significantly lower than that of the population as a whole. Phenobarbitone was the most frequently prescribed AED, and the penetration of newer AEDs was minimal. Subjects in early old age (60-74 years) were more likely than older subjects to take an AED. Logistic regression indicated a significant association between seizures reports, a younger age and a history of cerebrovascular events, alcohol abuse and meningiomas. The prevalence of AED use in this study was lower than that found by previous U.S. studies: nevertheless, our data confirm male gender and early old age as factors associated with AED taking in elderly nursing home residents. In our series AED users showed a lower level of autonomy. Taken together, our data suggest that an earlier institutionalization of seizure subjects could be facilitated by the clustering of various conditions, such as seizures, cerebrovascular events, other clinical disorders and a possibly inappropriate anticonvulsant treatment.

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