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Seizure. 2014 May;23(5):382-5. doi: 10.1016/j.seizure.2014.02.005. Epub 2014 Feb 22.

A community study in Cornwall UK of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) in a 9-year population sample.

Author information

Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom; Exeter Medical School, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom; MS Ramaiah Medical College and Hospitals, India.
UCL Institute of Neurology, United Kingdom.
Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom; Exeter Medical School, United Kingdom.
RCHT, United Kingdom.
Coroner's Office, United Kingdom.
SUDEP Action, United Kingdom.
Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom.



Epilepsy-related death, particularly sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), is underestimated by healthcare professionals. One argument that physicians use to justify the failure to discuss SUDEP with patients and their families is that there is a lack of evidence for any protective interventions. However, there is growing evidence of potentially modifiable risk factors for SUDEP; although large-scale trials of interventions are still lacking. We determined the main risk factors associated with SUDEP in a comprehensive community sample of epilepsy deaths in Cornwall UK from 2004 to 2012.


We systemically inspected 93 cases of all epilepsy and epilepsy associated deaths which occurred in Cornwall between 2004 and 2012 made available to us by the HM Cornwall coroner. These are the deaths where epilepsy was a primary or a secondary cause.


48 cases met the criteria for SUDEP and we elicited associated relevant risk factors. Many findings from our study are comparable to what has been reported previously. New points such as most of the population had increase in either or both seizure frequency/intensity within six months of death and majority did not have an epilepsy specialist review in the last one year to demise were noted.


This study is the first epidemiological study in England occurring in a whole population identifying systemically all deaths and the first large scale review in UK of SUDEP deaths since 2005. Being a community based study a key issue which was highlighted was that in the SUDEPs examined many might have been potentially preventable.


Epidemiology; Risk; SUDEP; Safety checklist; Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy

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