It's not just epilepsy, says expert
Several diseases, including depression, anxiety, dementia, migraine, heart disease, peptic ulcers and arthritis are up to eight times more common in people with the neurological disorder.
And most premature deaths in people with epilepsy are related to other health conditions, particularly cancers and cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease.
Now epileptologists at Epilepsy Society, are calling for provision of better healthcare for people with epilepsy to help with the early detection and treatment of these conditions.
Impact on quality of life
Professor Ley Sander, medical director at Epilepsy Society and a consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery said that some conditions such as depression and migraine negatively affect seizure control and quality of life. Individuals with epilepsy and a history of depression or substance abuse were also at an increased risk of death from causes such as suicide and accidental death.
'There is a pressing need for new and validated screening instruments and guidelines to help with the early detection and treatment of these accompanying conditions,' he said in a review published in The Lancet: neurology.
'Early detection would lead to early intervention and tangible healthcare benefits for the patient. Psychiatric, cognitive and physical conditions - for example migraine and osteoporosis - frequently go undetected and under treated in people with epilepsy.'
Screening instruments and guidelines already exist for conditions such as osteporosis and depression in the general population, but these methods have not been translated and validated for use in people with epilepsy.
The review outlines the substantial healthcare costs associated with managing people with multiple conditions in the general population. Data from American private insurance claims showed that that 80 per cent of direct medical costs from people with epilepsy were not related to the epilepsy but to other co-existing conditions.
People with epilepsy and other conditions are at an increased risk of admission to hospital and can incur higher medical costs than those who only have epilepsy.
Professor Sander said that in the US, the Institute of Medicine has recommended that people with epilepsy should be screened on a regular basis for other conditions.
'Screening instruments and guidelines already exist for conditions such as osteporosis and depression in the general population, but these methods have not been translated and validated for use in people with epilepsy,' he continued.
'The absence of such instruments and guidelines is a clear and pressing gap in epilepsy in the UK.'
Professor Sander said that by furthering our understanding of the relationship between epilepsy and other conditions, it would help to increase understanding of epilepsy as part of a collection of individual disorders that share a tendency to cause epileptic seizures. This could also help to clarify the important role of genetics in epilepsy and other conditions.