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Epilepsy Receiving Inadequate Attention

CDC says patients, doctors at fault for treatment gaps affecting 1 in every 100 Americans

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- About one in 100 American adults has active epilepsy and more than one-third of those with epilepsy aren't receiving adequate treatment, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that examined the prevalence of epilepsy or seizure disorders among more than 120,000 adults in 19 states.

"Despite having recent seizures, more than one out of three adults reported not seeing a neurologist or epilepsy specialist in the past year. These findings suggest that adults with uncontrolled seizures may not be receiving the optimal medical treatment they need and may face substantial impairments in their daily activities," study co-author Dr. David Thurman, a neurologist in the CDC's Division of Adult and Community Health, said in an agency news release.

Of adults with active epilepsy, 44 percent reported having recent seizures. Of those, 65 percent said they'd had one or more seizures in the past three months, said the study, published in the Aug. 7 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Among people with epilepsy, inadequate medical treatment greatly increases the risk of subsequent seizures, disability, injuries sustained during a seizure, and death, the researchers noted.

Epilepsy affects about 2.7 million people in the United States and costs about $15.5 billion a year in medical costs and lost or reduced earnings and productivity. Adults with epilepsy have a significantly worse health-related quality of life than those without the disorder, the study said.

For example, adults with epilepsy were more likely to be unemployed, face limitations in their normal activities such as socializing with friends, and to have other health risks such as physical inactivity and smoking.

"While epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions, most people know very little about this disorder, or how to support those with epilepsy," Janet Collins, director of the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a news release. "We hope this report, which provides the largest and most comprehensive data on epilepsy in the United States, can help states and public health agencies better understand the prevalence of epilepsy, as well as epilepsy-associated conditions and limitations."

More information

The Epilepsy Foundation has more about epilepsy.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Aug. 7, 2008

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