A new study finds that although 76% of caregivers have heard of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, only 65% of epilepsy patients are familiar with it.
It is assumed that most – though not all – cases of SUDEP take place either during or immediately after a seizure.
One cause of SUDEP could be apnea – pauses in breathing that people with epilepsy may experience during a seizure. Pauses that last too long may reduce the oxygen in the blood, which could endanger life.
Equally, during a convulsive seizure, a person’s airway may become obstructed, which can lead to suffocation.
Seizures can also affect heart rhythm, which could bring on a heart attack. Alternatively, SUDEP could be caused by a combination of breathing difficulty and abnormal hearth rhythm.