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Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy

Every year more than 1000 people die of epilepsy related causes. One third of those deaths are young adults and some children. The majority of these are SUDEP.

Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy is a recognised syndrome where a person with epilepsy dies suddenly and no other cause of death is revealed. SUDEP has been shown to be related to seizures.

For children, the greatest risk of SUDEP includes tonic-clonic seizures; uncontrolled seizures; seizures during sleep; unwitnessed seizures and changes in medication.

The reasons for SUDEP are not fully understood, but it is believed that the two primary explanations for SUDEP are a fatal cardiac event or respiratory arrest, both caused by seizures.

SUDEP in young children is relatively rare, but the risk increases in adolescence.