February 27, 2018

Study: Risk for injuries and accidents in epilepsy: A prospective population-based cohort study

Study in Neurology finds risk for injuries and accidents in people with epilepsy is highest in first two years following seizure onset.

Objective: To study the risk for injuries/accidents in people with newly diagnosed epileptic seizures in relation to comorbidities.

Methods: Between September 1, 2001, and August 31, 2008, individuals in northern Stockholm with incident unprovoked seizures (epilepsy; n = 2,130) were included in a registry. For every epilepsy patient, 8 individuals matched for sex and inclusion year (n = 16,992) were randomly selected as references from the population of the catchment area. Occurrence of injuries/accidents was monitored through the national patient and cause of death registers until December 31, 2013. These registers also provided information on comorbidities (e.g., brain tumor, stroke, psychiatric disease, diabetes mellitus).

Results: Injury/accident was demonstrated in 1,033 epilepsy cases and 6,202 references (hazard ratio [HR] 1.71, 95% confidence interval 1.60–1.83). The excess risk was seen mainly during the first 2 years after diagnosis. Sex and educational status had no significant effect on HR. The risk was normal in children but increased in adults. Highest HR was seen for drowning, poisoning, adverse effect of medication, and severe traumatic brain injury. Compared to references without comorbidities, HR was 1.17 (1.07–1.28) in epilepsy without comorbidities, 4.52 (4.18–4.88) in references with comorbidities, and 7.15 (6.49–7.87) in epilepsy with comorbidities.

Conclusion: Presence of comorbidities should be considered when counseling patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy concerning risk for injuries/accidents. Early information is important, as the risk is highest during the first 2 years following seizure onset.