Prevalence and incidence of epilepsy in Italy based on a nationwide database

Neuroepidemiology. 2014;43(3-4):228-32. doi: 10.1159/000368801. Epub 2014 Nov 20.


Objectives: To estimate the prevalence and incidence of epilepsy in Italy using a national database of general practitioners (GPs).

Methods: The Health Search CSD Longitudinal Patient Database (HSD) has been established in 1998 by the Italian College of GPs. Participants were 700 GPs, representing a population of 912,458. For each patient, information on age and sex, EEG, CT scan, and MRI was included. Prevalent cases with a diagnosis of 'epilepsy' (ICD9CM: 345*) were selected in the 2011 population. Incident cases of epilepsy were identified in 2011 by excluding patients diagnosed for epilepsy and convulsions and those with EEG, CT scan, MRI prescribed for epilepsy and/or convulsions in the previous years. Crude and standardized (Italian population) prevalence and incidence were calculated.

Results: Crude prevalence of epilepsy was 7.9 per 1,000 (men 8.1; women 7.7). The highest prevalence was in patients <25 years and ≥75 years. The incidence of epilepsy was 33.5 per 100,000 (women 35.3; men 31.5). The highest incidence was in women <25 years and in men 75 years or older.

Conclusions: Prevalence and incidence of epilepsy in this study were similar to those of other industrialized countries. HSD appears as a reliable data source for the surveillance of epilepsy in Italy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Databases, Factual
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult