Syncope, seizure or both?

Acute Card Care. 2016 Mar;18(1):31-34. doi: 10.1080/17482941.2016.1234056. Epub 2016 Nov 21.


Ictal asystole (IA) is a rare phenomenon in patients with seizures with an incidence of 0.27-0.4% and has been proposed as a possible mechanism of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy patients (SUDEP). We present a case of a 53-year-old woman who initially presented with episodes of expressive aphasia and was treated with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). While on therapy she experienced episodes of syncope. During her hospitalization for tapering of AEDs and 24-hour EEG monitoring, the patient developed a seizure followed by sinus bradycardia and an 18-second sinus pause, resulting in loss of consciousness and slowing of cerebral activity. Ten seconds after the return of cardiac activity, the EEG showed return of cerebral activity. A dual chamber pacemaker was implanted.

Keywords: Ictal asystole; seizures; sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage*
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory / methods
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Epilepsy* / complications
  • Epilepsy* / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy* / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy* / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest* / diagnosis
  • Heart Arrest* / etiology
  • Heart Arrest* / physiopathology
  • Heart Arrest* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pacemaker, Artificial*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticonvulsants