Evaluation of sudden death in epilepsy

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1986 Dec;7(4):283-7. doi: 10.1097/00000433-198612000-00003.


Records of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the State of Maryland were reviewed for all cases of natural deaths due to epilepsy occurring in 1981 and 1982. Cases involving unclear seizure history, alcoholism, or other superimposed disorders were excluded. Twenty-nine cases were accepted and analyzed with respect to age, race, sex, circumstances of death, neuropathology, and anticonvulsant therapy. Most cases involved black males, the median age at death was 26 years, and the vast majority died in bed or in the bedroom. Less than half of these individuals had neuropathological lesions. Most had detectable levels of anticonvulsants in post-mortem blood; more than half the decedents with detectable levels of phenobarbital showed therapeutic levels of this drug.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Anticonvulsants / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Death, Sudden / etiology*
  • Epilepsy / mortality*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maryland
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Sex Factors


  • Anticonvulsants