February 14, 2024

Death Rate Higher than Expected for Patients with Functional, Nonepileptic Seizures

Article published by Newswise

The death rate for patients with functional, nonepileptic seizures is higher than expected, with a rate comparable to epilepsy and severe mental illness, a Michigan Medicine-led study finds. In the largest study of its kind in the United States, a team of researchers reviewed data from 700 patients diagnosed with functional seizures, also called psychogenic or nonepileptic seizures. Of the 700 patients with functional seizures, 11 of them died — a death rate almost 2.5 times the number of people who would be expected to die over the same time period among similar people without functional seizures. “Functional seizures have long been stigmatized among health professionals, and our results highlight the serious nature of the diagnosis,” said senior author Nicholas J. Beimer, M.D. “All of the patients who died in our study had significant medical comorbidities and this should encourage us to care for patients with functional seizures from a holistic perspective, considering both their mental health and medical condition at the same time, rather than apart,” said co-author Elissa H. Patterson, Ph.D. “The goal is to get these patients the right treatment and soon as possible.”