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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Study: epilepsy rates linked to social deprivation

1 October, 2003

People living in socially deprived areas are up to five times more likely
to develop epilepsy than those living in wealthier areas, according to
research from Epilepsy Scotland.

An audit of patients
at 22 doctors' practices in south-west Glasgow showed that in some
areas of the city, the prevalence of epilepsy rises to a
rate of 2.39 per cent (or 1 in 41 people), compared with a national average,
according to the researchers, of 0.5 per cent.

Dr George Barlow,
author of the report, commented:

"It is widely known that disease in general is usually more prevalent
in areas of deprivation. But these results actually ask more questions
than they give answers; we don't yet know what the reason for this
increase is and we need more research urgently."

This research corresponds with a study
published in the British Medical Journal in 2002 which showed a link between poverty, social deprivation
and the prevalence of epilepsy.

Epilepsy Scotland's Chief Executive Hilary Mounfield said:

"Revised guidelines
for adults with epilepsy were launched six months ago, but these are
not
being uniformly implemented in each NHS [National Health Service]
Board.

"Few patients
presently see a specialist within four weeks of their first seizure
and revised
guidelines advise GPs [local doctors] to refer such patients
to a specialist within two weeks. This is to avoid a shocking 30 per
cent misdiagnosis rate for epilepsy. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists
have a key role in
the reviewing of epilepsy patients. Without regular review, patients
may be using old or inappropriate medication."