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06 April 2016

Study analyses cardiac health of children with epilepsy one year after starting ketogenic diet

A study has found that a ketogenic diet does not appear to have a disturbing effect on the ventricular function of the heart in children with epilepsy.

The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate, controlled protein diet that has been used since the 1920s for the treatment of epilepsy. The diet is a medical treatment and is usually only considered when at least two suitable medications have been tried and not worked. 

The study, published in the Official Journal of the Japanese Society of Child Neurology, focused on the ketogenic diet which had been referred to as an "effective therapy with side effects" for children withuncontrolled epilepsy. 

The side effects of the diet include cardiac abnormalities and vascular dysfunction, but there was insufficient data regarding the diet's specific effect on ventricular functions which control the way blood is pumped around the body. 

For the study, researchers used conventional and new imaging techniques to analyse the cardiac functions of 61 children with uncontrolled epilepsy on a ketogenic diet after 12 months.

Researchers found there was "no significant difference after one year of ketogenic diet therapy compared to baseline values", with the exception of a significantly decreased A wave velocity, or the velocity at which the arterial pulse propagates.

The study concluded: "The ketogenic diet appears to have no disturbing effect on ventricular functions in epileptic children in the midterm."