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Epilepsia. 2018 Oct;59 Suppl 2:140-143. doi: 10.1111/epi.14497. Epub 2018 Aug 29.

Status epilepticus in the elderly.

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Department of Pharmacy and Neurology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Children and the elderly (≥60 years of age) have the highest incidence of status epilepticus (SE). Because of their general health, elderly individuals are much more likely than younger (<60 years of age) persons to have more severe consequences from seizures. The incidence of SE is 15.5/100 000 in the 60-69 age group, 21.5/100 000 in the 70-79 age group and 25.9/100 000 in persons 80 and older. The most common cause in the elderly is acute symptomatic, with stroke and hypoxia the most frequent. The overall mortality of SE is quite high and occurs early, often within the first few days, and is related to the cause, with mortality of more than 80% in persons with anoxia. Although the cause of SE is an important factor in mortality, the aging body and brain may contribute to an unfavorable outcome. Treatment in the elderly is essentially the same as in younger adults with benzodiazepines (lorazepam, diazepam, clonazepam) and longer acting antiseizure drugs (phenytoin, fosphenytoin, valproate, levetiracetam, and lacosamide. At this time there are no evidence-based studies regarding Axis 2 (etiology) and Axis 4 (age). All current interventions for SE involve antiseizure drugs that were developed for treatment of chronic epilepsy. Treatments should be developed that are more specific for the various etiologies and involve drugs that work on the underlying cause of the SE.


convulsive status epilepticus; elderly; nonconvulsive status epilepticus; status epilepticus

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