January 6, 2022

Seizure Triggers Identified Postictally Using a Smart Watch Reporting System

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Persons with epilepsy (PWE) often report that seizure triggers can influence the occurrence and timing of seizures. Some previous studies of seizure triggers have relied on retrospective daily seizure diaries or surveys pertaining to all past seizures, recent and/or remote, in respondents. To assess the characteristics of seizure triggers at the granularity of individual seizures, we used a seizure-tracking app, called EpiWatch, on a smart watch system (Apple Watch and iPhone) in a national study of PWE. Participants tracked seizures during a 16-month study period using the EpiWatch app. Seizure tracking was initiated during a pre-ictal state or as the seizure was occurring and included collection of biosensor data, responsiveness testing, and completion of an immediate post-seizure survey. The survey evaluated seizure types, auras or warning symptoms, loss of awareness, use of rescue medication, and seizure triggers for each tracked seizure. Two hundred and thirty four participants tracked 2493 seizures. Ninety six participants reported triggers in 650 seizures: stress (65.8%), lack of sleep (30.5%), menstrual cycle (19.7%), and overexertion (18%) were the most common. Participants often reported having multiple combined triggers, frequent stress with lack of sleep, overexertion, or menses. Participants who reported triggers were more likely to be taking 3 or more anti-seizure medications compared to participants who did not report triggers. Participants were able to interact with the app and use mobile technology in this national study to record seizures and report common seizure triggers. These findings demonstrate the promise of longitudinal, self-reported data to improve our understanding of epilepsy and its related comorbidities.

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