[Epilepsy and the heart]

Rev Neurol (Paris). 1997 Apr;153(3):173-84.
[Article in French]


The relations between epilepsy and heart are complex and expressed in two opposite sides. (1) Cardiac arrhythmias may provoke epileptic seizures but these seizures are, in this case, syncopal attacks. Nevertheless, in the past, these clinical features have been individualized as "cardiac epilepsy" or epilepsy in cardiacs. However, true epileptic seizures could be observed in the course of a syncopal attack and a syncope may complicate the issue of an epileptic seizure. (2) On the other hand, epileptic seizures may provoke severe cardiac arrhythmias. The incidence rate of sudden death in patients with epilepsy is estimated to be 1/1000 patients. The exact neural mechanisms in cardiac arrhythmias seizures could explain only some of the sudden unexpected deaths observed in epileptic patients. The role of antiepileptic drugs on cardiac conduction as well as the effects of seizures or status epilepticus on the myocardium are other enigmatic aspects of the relations between epilepsy and heart.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / complications*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Death, Sudden / etiology
  • Electrocardiography
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / complications*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Syncope / etiology
  • Syncope / physiopathology