Ten year cumulative incidence of dementia after late onset epilepsy of unknown etiology

J Clin Neurosci. 2021 Apr;86:247-251. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2021.01.030. Epub 2021 Feb 16.


Recent epidemiological studies suggest late life onset epilepsy of unknown etiology (LOEU) is a risk factor for future dementia. These studies rely on inclusion and exclusion of multiple diagnostic codes rather than structured data and neuroimaging findings, and thus challenging to interpret clinically. We assessed the cumulative incidence of dementia in patients with LOEU diagnosed through admission data and neuroimaging over a 10-year follow-up and compared baseline characteristics that distinguish group level incident dementia. We screened our hospital records for patients aged 55-69 with new epilepsy, admitted between 2000 and 2008, and excluded patients diagnosed with epilepsy from an underlying cause on medical records or neuroimaging. We used retrospective hospital data to follow patients for incident dementia or mortality at 10 years and compared baseline (demographics, depression or anxiety, vascular risk factors, results of electroencephalogram (EEG) studies, antidepressant use and type of ant seizure medication) and follow up (seizure recurrence, incident cerebrovascular disease) characteristics for patients with and without incident dementia. Fifty-four LOEU cases were screened, age at first seizure was 61 ± 5. The 10-year cumulative incidence of dementia was 22.20% (95% Confidence Interval 22.08-23.10%) and time to dementia diagnosis was 5.4 ± 3.9 years. Patients with incident dementia were more likely to be women (83% vs 38%, p = 0.002), have interictal epileptic form discharges (IED) on baseline EEG (70% vs 29%, p = 0.011) and depression or anxiety (50% vs 18%, p = 0.026). No differences were found in other baseline or follow up characteristics. Our results support recent findings of dementia incidence in LOEU. Prospective studies on LOEU should evaluate phenotypic determinants of individuals with late life epilepsy and the rate of progression to dementia.

Keywords: Alzheimer; Dementia risk; Epilepsy etiology; Late onset epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Dementia / diagnostic imaging
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Electroencephalography / trends*
  • Epilepsy / diagnostic imaging
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Epilepsy / etiology
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Prodromal Symptoms*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors