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Mayo Clinic Physician Publishes Editorial on Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy

April 8, 2010

An editorial on Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) authored by Mayo Clinic neurologist Elson So, M.D. was published in this month's issue of the Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology.

Dr. So writes, "The phenomenon of SUDEP is unique in that it occurs during normal and usual daily activities in persons without pre-existing cardiorespiratory illness of a serious nature...The mystery of SUDEP is further supported by failure of autopsy to yield plausible explanations for the death, even in prospective series of autopsy cases. The lack of clues for the cause of death only adds to the anguish of bereaved families and friends."

The editorial discusses three articles resulting from a symposium on the neurophysiology of SUDEP held last year. One, Clinical Features of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy by Asadi-Pooya and Sperling defines SUDEP and discusses its incidence and risk factors. Schuele reviews the potential acute and chronic effects of seizures in Effects of Seizures on Cardiac Function, and the third article, Respiratory Physiology of Seizures by Blum, discusses the effects of seizures on respiration.

Dr. So notes that "clinical neurophysiologic studies will continue to have a major role in SUDEP research. Future research in SUDEP may involve simultaneous assessments of multiple organ systems to study the effects of seizures in antiepileptic medications on vital functions and to identify persons with the highest SUDEP risk.

Dr. Elson So, a Mayo Clinic neurologist and epilepsy expert, discusses the disease and its treatments, as well as provides an overview of research that is taking place.

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