Purpose: To determine the incidence and case-fatality rate of status epilepticus (SE) in adults in Hessen, Germany, we performed a prospective, population-based study from July 1997 through June 1999.
Methods: All adult patients residing within the zip-code area 35 (area-35) with SE were included. Area-35 had 743.285 adult inhabitants, including 123.353 adult inhabitants of the primary service area of the University Hospital Marburg (PS-area). Patients were reported by 16 hospitals in the area and were prospectively identified and carefully reviewed within 5 days by one of the authors. Based on the crude annual incidence of SE and a rate of underascertainment of 10% determined for the PS-area, the corrected, age-adjusted incidence of SE in area 35, more representative of the population of Germany, was calculated.
Results: The crude annual incidence in the PS-area was 15.8/100,000 [95% confidence interval (CI), 11.2-21.6]. The calculated, corrected, age-adjusted incidence of SE in area 35 was 17.1/100,000. It was higher for men compared with women (26.1 vs. 13.7) and for those aged 60 years and older (54.5 vs. 4.2/100,000, p < 0.0001). The etiology was mainly remote symptomatic due to cerebrovascular disease. Epilepsy was previously diagnosed in only 50% of the patients. The case-fatality rate was 9.3%.
Conclusions: Based on our data, at least 14,000 patients would be affected by SE in Germany, associated with approximately 1,300 deaths annually. The incidence of SE in Germany is similar to that found in the white United States population. Furthermore, this study confirms the higher incidence of SE in male patients and in the elderly population. This may be due to a higher incidence of cerebrovascular disease in these subpopulations.