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People with epilepsy "may reliably predict their seizures - study

23 January, 2007

Some patients
with epilepsy can reliably predict when they are likely to have a
seizure, according to a study published in the January 23, 2007, issue
of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers believe the findings may lead to better seizure prevention for people with epilepsy.

"Many
patients report they can identify periods of increased risk for
seizure, but this has not been prospectively tested before," said lead
study author Dr. Sheryl Haut of the Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York.

The
researchers examined 71 patients who had at least one seizure during
the past year, but not more than one per day. Patients were asked to
keep a daily log in which they predicted how likely they were to
experience a seizure in the coming 24 hours.

57
patients experienced seizures during the study. Of these patients, the
study found they correctly predicted about 32 per cent of their
seizures, and 83 per cent of their seizure-free days. Seizures were
twice as likely to happen in the 24 hours following a positive
prediction.

Some
people were much better at predicting their seizures than others. "The
study found a subgroup of 12 patients in which seizures were more than
three times as likely following a prediction," said Haut. "While these
patients were younger and had a higher seizure rate, no other factor
stood out as a likely reason for their higher accuracy."

If
these results are confirmed in future studies, the ability to predict
seizures could have significant implications for the treatment of
epilepsy.

"Patients
who can accurately predict an increased risk of seizure might be able
to take medications to pre-empt a seizure before it starts," said Haut.
"Accurate prediction of a reduced risk is also important since it might
provide reassurance and improve quality of life for people with
epilepsy."

"The
study has several limitations, such as patients reporting their own
predictions and seizures, but overall it is an important step towards a
new direction for obtaining better seizure control and improving the
lives of people with epilepsy," said Haut.