Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy: a retrospective analysis of 24 adult cases

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Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy is a common form of seizure-related death but is poorly appreciated by the medical profession. A number of risk factors have been identified in this context including male gender, young adult age group (20-40 years), poor compliance with antiepileptic drugs, polytherapy, and presence of neuropathological lesions. In addition it has been noted that most of the victims sustained an unwitnessed collapse at home. In this paper, we describe a retrospective review of 24 adult cases of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. The study recognizes two risk factors; poor compliance with anti-epileptic monotherapy and an age between 20 and 29 years. All the victims were found dead at home and only one had a witnessed collapse. Our study shows a variety of neuropathological findings as the etiology. The completeness of the autopsy findings for all the cases is a strength compared to some of the other studies.

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