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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Half of UK patients on epilepsy medication "still having seizures"

15 January, 2004

Around half of the people with epilepsy in the UK taking anti-epileptic
drugs (AEDs) are still having seizures, according to research published
in the journal Seizure.

Researchers
at the Institute
of Neurology
sent a questionnaire to 3,455 patients receiving
AEDs for epilepsy. Of the 1,652 completed replies, in the preceding
one year,
51.7 per cent of patients had no seizures; 7.9 per cent one seizure,
17.2 per cent had between two and nine seizures and 23.2 per cent had
ten or more seizures. Sixty-four per cent of patients had epilepsy classified
as mild and 32 per cent as severe.

The study also found
that the most commonly used AEDs were carbamazepine (37.4 per cent),
valproate (35.7 per cent), phenytoin (29.4 per cent),
phenobarbitone or primidone (14.2 per cent) and lamotrigine (10.3 per
cent). Monotherapy [taking only one AED] was used in 68 per cent of patients,
while those taking multiple AEDs reported significantly higher levels
of adverse effects and worse seizure control.

The major impacts of epilepsy on life were work and school difficulties,
driving prohibition, psychological and social life. The impacts listed
varied with the epilepsy severity and age. The researchers found that
there was a marked and significant reduction of seizure frequency with
increasing age.

They concluded:

"Previously, there has
been a deficiency of data on the characteristics of epilepsy in older
people, although it is recognised that the condition
is of increasing epidemiological importance in this age group. We have
found clear differences in the clinical characteristics of epilepsy in
older people, particularly that seizure frequency appears to decline
with increasing age."