High blood pressure may double epilepsy risk

Published: November 23 2021
Last updated: September 28 2022

High blood pressure may double the risk of developing epilepsy in older age. This is according to a new study in the journal Epilepsia.

The US study by Dr Maria Stefanidou and colleagues looked at risk factors in the blood system that may predict if epilepsy develops in people aged 45 years and older.

Participants from the Framing Heart Study (1991-95), who were at least 45 years old at the time, were included in the study. They also needed to have available blood system risk factor data and an epilepsy follow-up. Blood system risk factors included high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and high level of fats in the blood.

The team found that out of the 2,986 people included in the study, 55 had epilepsy at the follow-up. High blood pressure appeared to double the risk of developing epilepsy. The team did a second analysis, where they excluded people with normal blood pressure who were receiving blood pressure medication. This changed the total number of people in this group to 2,613 and those who had epilepsy to 50. In this analysis, high blood pressure increased the risk by nearly two-and-a-half times.

The study authors concluded that their study added to evidence that high blood pressure increases the risk of developing epilepsy later in life. They stressed that this is a risk factor that can be reduced in the general population, through things like lifestyle changes and medicines.