Health-related behaviors and comorbidities in people with epilepsy: Changes in the past decade

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Abstract

Objective:

We aimed to explore the patterns of health-related behaviors (HRBs) such as smoking and physical activity in people with epilepsy in the community and examine whether behaviors have changed over the past decade.

Methods:

We conducted a repeated cross-sectional study using data from a series of five cycles (2001–2011) of the Canadian Community Health Survey, a national population-based survey. The proportions and odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals for HRBs and comorbidities in people with epilepsy (PWE) compared to respondents without epilepsy were calculated for each survey over the 10-year period, and estimates were examined for changes over time.

Results:

The study included 522,722 participants of whom 3,220 (0.6%) had epilepsy. The proportion of PWE who did not participate in physical activity decreased over time (2001 = 17.2%, 2010/2011 = 8.5%), as did the proportion of PWE who smoked cigarettes (2001 = 32.3%, 2010/2011 = 18.0%). PWE had consistently reduced alcohol consumption in comparison to the general population. Fewer than half of participants met the recommended daily guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption. An apparent reduction in the prevalence of heart disease occurred in PWE (2001 = 11.7%, 2010/2011 = 4.0%), but not in people without epilepsy; however, similar trends were not observed for other cardiovascular comorbidities studied.

Significance:

Apparent improvements in smoking cessation and physical activity occurred in PWE. Despite these improvements, physicians should continue to counsel their patients on the importance of healthy lifestyle choices. Further exploration into the reasons for the apparent decrease in the prevalence of heart disease in PWE is warranted.

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