When younger people have a stroke, they tend to experience more brain damage. A study presented today at the 2016 American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting reported that these younger stroke sufferers are at greater risk of developing epilepsy.
Overall, 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime. This study found that more than 1 in 10 people who have a stroke will develop post-stroke epilepsy, also known as PSE.
A research team led by Dr. Beate Diehl, neurologist and clinical neurophysiologist at University College London, looked at a database of more than 1,000 people in the United Kingdom who had a stroke to find the differences between those who developed PSE and those who did not. The study identified 450 people who had undergone magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and answered questions on whether they had seizures.
- 369 had strokes in the left hemisphere of the brain and 42 (11%) developed PSE
- 81 had right hemisphere strokes and 9 (11%) developed PSE
- Those who developed PSE had twice the size of brain damage as those who didn’t develop PSE
- Those who developed PSE were 44 years old on average, while those who didn’t develop PSE were 56 years old on average
In people with left hemispheric stroke who developed PSE, the most commonly affected areas of the brain were deep areas including the basal ganglia and the thalamus. These areas of the brain help control movement and many other functions from sensation to controlling consciousness.
“Many physicians treating stroke patients don’t realize that falls, episodes of confusion, and loss of consciousness may be signs of post-stroke epilepsy,” said Diehl. “Post-stroke epileptic seizures can negatively affect stroke recovery and rehabilitation.”
Therefore, health care providers and family members caring for someone who has had a stroke, especially at an early age, should
- Be aware of the risk of developing epilepsy
- Learn how to recognize seizures