Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy: a search for risk factors

Epilepsy Behav. 2007 Feb;10(1):138-41. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2006.11.010. Epub 2006 Dec 29.


Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the commonest cause of seizure-related mortality in people with refractory epilepsy. Of the 6140 patients registered with the Epilepsy Unit at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow between 1982 and 2005, 529 had died, 62 (11.7%) of whom succumbed to SUDEP. All but 2 deaths occurred at home; 3 were witnessed. Two living controls were matched with each SUDEP case for year of birth, gender, and syndromic classification. Mean duration of epilepsy was significantly longer in cases compared with controls (P=0.001). More people succumbing to SUDEP had had a seizure within the previous year (P=0.007). There were no significant associations between SUDEP and a history of generalized tonic-clonic seizures, drug polytherapy, and current use of carbamazepine. There is an urgent need for a large-scale, prospective, international, community-based study of SUDEP to explore more closely the risk factors to plan preventive strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Death, Sudden / etiology*
  • Epilepsy / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors*