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CNS Neurosci Ther. 2012 Apr;18(4):285-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-5949.2011.00251.x. Epub 2011 Jun 7.

Seizures and epilepsy in Alzheimer's disease.

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New York University Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Many studies have shown that patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) are at increased risk for developing seizures and epilepsy. However, reported prevalence and incidence of seizures and relationship of seizures to disease measures such as severity, outcome, and progression vary widely between studies. We performed a literature review of the available clinical and epidemiological data on the topic of seizures in patients with AD. We review seizure rates and types, risk factors for seizures, electroencephalogram (EEG) studies, and treatment responses. Finally, we consider limitations and methodological issues. There is considerable variability in the reported prevalence and incidence of seizures in patients with AD-with reported lifetime prevalence rates of 1.5-64%. More recent, prospective, and larger studies in general report lower rates. Some, but not all, studies have noted increased seizure risk with increasing dementia severity or with younger age of AD onset. Generalized convulsive seizures are the most commonly reported type, but often historical information is the only basis used to determine seizure type and the manifestation of seizures may be difficult to distinguish from other behaviors common in demented patients. EEG has infrequently been performed and reported. Data on treatment of seizures in AD are extremely limited. Similarly, the relationship between seizures and cognitive impairment in AD is unclear. We conclude that the literature on seizures and epilepsy in AD, including diagnosis, risk factors, and response to treatment suffers from methodological limitations and gaps.

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