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Open Cardiovasc Med J. 2016 May 27;10:105-9. doi: 10.2174/1874192401610010105. eCollection 2016.

Ictal Cardiac Ryhthym Abnormalities.

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Henry Ford Hospital, Department of Neurosurgery, 2799 West Grand Blvd. Detroit, MI 48202, USA.


Cardiac rhythm abnormalities in the context of epilepsy are a well-known phenomenon. However, they are under-recognized and often missed. The pathophysiology of these events is unclear. Bradycardia and asystole are preceded by seizure onset suggesting ictal propagation into the cortex impacting cardiac autonomic function, and the insula and amygdala being possible culprits. Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) refers to the unanticipated death of a patient with epilepsy not related to status epilepticus, trauma, drowning, or suicide. Frequent refractory generalized tonic-clonic seizures, anti-epileptic polytherapy, and prolonged duration of epilepsy are some of the commonly identified risk factors for SUDEP. However, the most consistent risk factor out of these is an increased frequency of generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTC). Prevention of SUDEP is extremely important in patients with chronic, generalized epilepsy. Since increased frequency of GTCS is the most consistently reported risk factor for SUDEP, effective seizure control is the most important preventive strategy.


Bradycardia; cardiac arrest; epilepsy; sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP)

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