Epidemiological and medical aspects of epilepsy in the elderly

James C Cloyd, W. Hauser, A. Towne, R. Ramsay, R. Mattson, F. Gilliam, Thaddeus S Walczak

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199 Scopus citations


Both the incidence and prevalence of epilepsy are high among the elderly. Cerebrovascular disease is the most common underlying cause, although as many as 25-40% of new epilepsy cases in the elderly have no obvious underlying etiology. Status epilepticus appears to occur more frequently in individuals greater than 60 years, and the morbidity and mortality of status epilepticus are significantly greater in this age group. Elderly patients with seizures, particularly complex partial seizures, present differently than younger adults, which can lead to misdiagnosis. Post-ictal confusion may last as long as 1-2 weeks in an elderly patient, as opposed to minutes in younger individuals. Adverse events are similar in symptomatology, but are more common in elderly patients and occur at lower doses and plasma drug concentrations. Neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are common in elderly patients with epilepsy, although often under-diagnosed and inadequately treated. The risk of osteoporosis is high among elderly women taking antiepileptic drugs, which underscores the importance of assessing bone health and treatment in this group. Management of the older patient with epilepsy requires an understanding of the etiologies and the medical and psychological aspects unique to this age group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalEpilepsy Research
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • AEDs
  • Adverse effects
  • Epidemiology
  • Epilepsy
  • Geriatrics


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