Epilepsy linked to higher risk of drowning

Aug 18, 2008

People with epilepsy appear to have a much higher risk of drowning compared to people without epilepsy, according to a study published in the August 19, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Previous studies have shown a higher risk most likely due to seizures but this study is one of the first to show exactly how high the risk may be.

For the study, researchers compiled information from 50 studies of people with epilepsy worldwide that followed the participants for a total of more than 200,000 patient-years. They also looked at population data and national registries to determine how many regular drowning deaths occur. A total of 88 people with epilepsy died by drowning. By comparison, 4.7 deaths by drowning would have been expected if the rates in the general population applied.

The study found that people with epilepsy had a 15 to 19 times higher risk of drowning compared with people in the general population. That risk was highest for people with epilepsy and a learning disability, those in institutional care and those who have had brain surgery but who were not all free of seizures.

"It is important that people with epilepsy and their caregivers take steps to prevent these tragedies," said study author Ley Sander, MD, FRCP, PhD, of the University College London Institute of Neurology, Queen Square in London, UK, and member of the American Academy of Neurology.

"People with active epilepsy should shower instead of bathe, take medication regularly to control seizures and should have direct supervision when swimming," Sander said.

The study also found that the increased risk of drowning may not be as great in children compared with adults. Sander explains it is most likely a result of more direct supervision.

The Global Burden of Disease 2000 Project estimates that nearly 450,000 people drowned in 2000 worldwide, putting the normal drowning risk at about 7 deaths per 100,000 people.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Explore further: Research shows that bacteria survive longer in contact lens cleaning solution than thought

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

An emergency brake in the brain

Nov 26, 2008

Brain researchers at the University of Oslo in Norway have penetrated deeply into the innermost secrets of the brain to find out how brain cells can survive a stroke. Strokes are usually caused by occlusion ...

Recommended for you

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

10 hours ago

The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain—evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.

Researchers see hospitalization records as additional tool

10 hours ago

Comparing hospitalization records with data reported to local boards of health presents a more accurate way to monitor how well communities track disease outbreaks, according to a paper published April 16 in the journal PLOS ON ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

New clinical trial launched for advance lung cancer

Cancer Research UK is partnering with pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Pfizer to create a pioneering clinical trial for patients with advanced lung cancer – marking a new era of research into personalised medicines ...

'Chief Yahoo' David Filo returns to board

Yahoo announced the nomination of three new board members, including company co-founder David Filo, who earned the nickname and formal job title of "Chief Yahoo."

More vets turn to prosthetics to help legless pets

A 9-month-old boxer pup named Duncan barreled down a beach in Oregon, running full tilt on soft sand into YouTube history and showing more than 4 million viewers that he can revel in a good romp despite lacking ...