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Latest study into number of sudden death in epilepsy cases

20 November, 2002

Researchers have presented findings, published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, which show that the deaths of between 350 and 400 adults each year in England and Wales can be classified as Sudden Unexpected Death In Epilepsy (SUDEP).

Six hundred and twelve deaths in England and Wales in 1997 mentioned epilepsy on the death certificate. Post mortem examinations were performed in 498 cases. Forty four deaths were certified as being attributable to SUDEP and in a further 292 deaths, SUDEP was a probable cause.

The report authors conclude that that between 350 and 400 cases of SUDEP occurred in England and Wales in 1997 in those 16–50 years.They say:

"SUDEP is the commonest category of epilepsy related death and accurate certification of such deaths is vital for the monitoring of trends in mortality."