Researchers Are Exploring the Cause of Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy

by Rukmani Krishna on  March 28, 2013 at 11:28 PM General Health News
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Dravet syndrome (DS) is a form of infantile-onset, treatment-resistant epilepsy. It is caused by a mutation in the gene encoding a voltage-gated sodium channel, SCN1A. DS patients have a 30-fold increased risk of dying from sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP) compared to patients with other forms of pediatric-onset epilepsy.
 Researchers Are Exploring the Cause of Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy
Researchers Are Exploring the Cause of Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy
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In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Franck Kalume and colleagues at the University of Washington characterized SUDEP in a mouse model of DS. Observation using video, electroencephalography, and electrocardiography revealed that a prolonged slowing of the heart beat preceded SUDEP in mice.

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Treatment with with drugs that reduce activity in the parasympathetic nervous system reduced the incidence of SUDEP, suggesting that mortality results from seizure-related parasympathetic hyperactivity. In a companion Attending Physician, Orrin Devinsky and colleagues discuss how these results could relate to SUDEP in human DS patients.

Source: Eurekalert
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