Efforts in Epilepsy Prevention in the Last 40 Years

This was a study conducted to see if new-onset epilepsy prevention strategies have been identified and successfully implemented.  This was done in Finland from 1973 to 2013 and analyzed first-time inpatients with an epilepsy diagnosis.  “Epilepsy” in this study was defined as two or more “unprovoked” seizures.

Previously, antiepileptic drugs have been proven to subdue epilepsy, but have failed to prevent new-onset epilepsy in individuals at risk for developing it.  They studied three different age groups longitudinally to see if there was an increase, decrease, or lack of change in the rates at which first-time patients were admitted with new-onset epilepsy.

In the last 40 years, the rate at which those 65 and younger were admitted to the hospital and newly diagnosed with epilepsy was constant.  However, the rate at which those 65 and older were diagnosed increase 5-fold over the last four decades.

They concluded that no advances had been made in the prevention of epilepsy.  However, I’d like to pose a question…is there really a way to definitively tell if someone will develop epilepsy in the future?  Often our healthcare is reactive not proactive–meaning we only treat things when there’s a problem.  If there aren’t any health complications, we don’t usually go seeking potential ones.  This can relate back to the study.  Yes, we have not been able to make strides with epilepsy prevention, but is that attainable at this time?

Sillanpaa M, Gissler M, Schmidt D. Efforts in Epilepsy Prevention in the Last 40 Years. JAMA Neurol. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.4515 (15 February 2016).

1 thought on “Efforts in Epilepsy Prevention in the Last 40 Years”

  1. It’s certainly a little disappointing to think that little progress has been made in the last 40 years with regards to epilepsy prevention. However, I definitely think that the reactive nature of healthcare is at the forefront of the problem. I’m optimistic about the future of epilepsy prevention because I think that emerging fields like genetics-based medicine and diagnostics could provide us with answers. For example, perhaps in the future we could determine certain genetic factors in the occurrence of epilepsy and provide measures to prevent its onset by suppressing those genes. Very exciting stuff.

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