A large scale study involving nearly 70,000 people in Sweden has found that people who have epilepsy were 11 times more likely to die prematurely compared to those without the condition.
Researchers led by Dr Seena Fazel from Oxford University tracked 69,995 epilepsy patients born in Sweden between 1954 and 2009 for a period of 41 years. The results were compared to more than 660,000 people from general population and over 81,000 siblings who did not have the condition. The study has been published in the journal The Lancet.
Around 16 percent of all deaths during the study period were due to suicides and accidents. The researchers found that 9 percent of people with epilepsy died during the study period compared to 0.7 percent of those without the condition.
Around three quarters of the participants had also been diagnosed with psychiatric conditions such as depression, which emerged as the most common cause of death not linked to the underlying disease process.
"Our results have significant public health implications as around 70 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and emphasize that carefully assessing and treating psychiatric disorders as part as part of standard checks in persons with epilepsy could help reduce the risk of premature death in these patients", Dr Fazel said.