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Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy

SUDEP stands for Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy. It refers to deaths in people with epilepsy that are not from injury, drowning, or other known causes. Most, but not all, cases of SUDEP happen during or right after a seizure. Approximately 1 death in every 1,000 people will occur from SUDEP every year.

SUDEP does not occur for one single reason, it can happen at any time to anyone. The greatest risk factor for SUDEP is having tonic clonic seizures (Grand Mal). Cardiac arrhythmias may occur, respiratory issues or oxygen levels that get cut off during a seizure can lead to  death in both convulsive and non-convulsive seizures.  

What is SUDEP?

Risk Factors of SUDEP

  • Uncontrolled or frequent seizures

  • Drinking excessive amount of alcohol

  • Generalized Tonic Clonic seizures

  • Seizures that begin at a young age

  • Missed doses of medicine

Can SUDEP Be Prevented?

  • Finding the right medication to control your seizures

  • Taking medication regularly

  • Getting enough sleep

  • Avoid your seizure triggers

  • If medicines do not work, consider other treatment options
  • Make sure family and co-workers know what to do for seizure first-aid

  • Take extra precautions around water, including swimming and bathing

  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol

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