MONDAY, Dec. 3, 2018 (HealthDay News) — The risk for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) may decrease over time, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society, held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 in New Orleans.

Neishay Ayub, M.D., from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues collected data on seizures among 12,402 users of SeizureTracker.com, which serves as an online and mobile seizure diary. More than 1.4 million seizures were analyzed and grouped as generalized and other seizures. The number of generalized seizures was calculated for each user for each year; each year was designated as low, medium, or high risk for SUDEP.

The researchers found that most patients who began with a low risk for SUDEP remained in this categorization, while patients who began in medium- or high-risk groups either changed risk groups or discontinued app use. About 30 percent of patients each in the high- and medium-risk groups left their initial risk group after three years of tracking seizures compared with only 7 percent of patients in the low-risk group. The analysis did not specify whether those in the medium-risk group moved to the high-risk or low-risk group.

“While studies for eliminating SUDEP are ongoing, this research shows that an individual’s risk is not set in stone,” Ayub said in a statement. “Our findings support the recommendation that for people with epilepsy who have ongoing GTCs [generalized tonic-clonic seizures], the goal of treatment is to reduce GTCs and thereby, lower SUDEP risk.”

One author was employed by SeizureTracker.

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