Purpose: Epilepsy is known to result from aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). There are no population-based estimates of the absolute risk or the duration for which this risk is elevated. We have conducted a population-based study in Iceland of the risk of epilepsy after a ruptured cerebral aneurysm to address these questions.
Methods: The index patients are all of the patients who presented with SAH caused by ruptured cerebral aneurysm in Iceland during an 11-year period (1958 to 1968) and survived more than 6 months. We determined the number of index patients who developed epilepsy. The observed number of cases of epilepsy was compared with that expected based on the incidence of epilepsy in Iceland.
Results: There were 44 index patients; 11 (25%) developed epilepsy, all within 4 years of the insult. Seven (70%) of 10 patients with acute symptomatic seizures (defined as seizures during the first 2 weeks after the hemorrhage) developed epilepsy (relative risk, 7.0; 95% confidence interval, 2.3-21.6). Epilepsy was more frequent in patients with severe neurological residua (48%) compared with patients without (20%) (relative risk, 2.5; 95% confidence interval, 0.9-6.3).
Conclusions: The risk for epilepsy among survivors of SAH caused by ruptured cerebral aneurysm is substantially increased. Both acute symptomatic seizure and persistent neurological impairment are associated with a further increase in the risk of epilepsy.