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Study finds that heart rate may help to predict seizures

Researchers in Japan have found that they may be able to predict epileptic seizures by monitoring heart rate variability (HRV).

The scientists based their study on the understanding that excessive neuronal activities during the pre-ictal period affect the autonomic nervous systems which are responsible for functions that are not consciously directed such as breathing, heart rate and digestive processes. This includes HRV.

The study analysed eight HRV features for anomalies in order to predict epileptic seizures from clinical data collected from  14 patients.

Using the study technique, scientists demonstrated that seizures in 10 out of 11 pre-ictal episodes could be predicted prior to the seizure itself.  This result gave the research method an accuracy rate of 91 per cent.

The study, which combined research from Kumamoto University, Kyoto University and Tokyo Medical and Dental University was published in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.

Researchers concluded that the possibility of realising an HRV-based epileptic seizure prediction system was shown. They added that the diagnostic method could be used in daily life, because the heart rate can be measured easily by using a wearable sensor.