November 4, 2021

COVID-19 Prevalence and Mortality in People with Epilepsy: A Nation-Wide Multicenter Study

Abstract originally published in Epilepsy Behavior

Background: To assess the prevalence, severity, and mortality of COVID-19 in people with epilepsy (PWE) and evaluate seizure control in PWE during and after COVID-19.

Methods: Retrospective, observational, multicenter study conducted in 14 hospitals. Medical records of randomly selected PWE followed at neurology outpatient clinics were reviewed. The proportion of PWE with a positive test for SARS-CoV-2 during 2020 was calculated. Risk factors associated with COVID-19 and its morbimortality were evaluated.

Results: 2751 PWE were included, mean age 48.8 years (18-99), 72.4% had focal epilepsy, and 35% were drug-refractory. COVID-19 prevalence in PWE was 5.53%, while in the Spanish population was 4.26%. The proportion of admissions to hospital, ICU, and deaths in PWE were 17.1%, 2%, and 4.61% of COVID-19 cases, while in the Spanish population they were 10.81%, 0.95%, and 2.57%, respectively. A severe form of COVID-19 occurred in 11.8%; dyslipidemia, institutionalization at long-term care facilities, intellectual disability, and older age were associated risk factors. Older age, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiac disease, and institutionalization were associated with mortality from COVID-19. Seizure control was stable in 90.1% of PWE during acute COVID-19, while 8.6% reported an increase in seizure frequency. During post-COVID-19 follow-up, 4.6% reported seizure control worsening.

Conclusions: COVID-19 was moderately prevalent in PWE. One out of 5 patients required medical attention and 4.6% died due to COVID-19. Older age, dyslipidemia, institutionalization, and intellectual disability were significant risk factors associated with severe COVID-19. Seizure control remained stable during COVID-19 and throughout long-term follow-up in most PWE who contracted the infection.

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