COLUMBUS, Ohio Patients with epilepsy worry more than their physicians do about the patients' potential memory loss accompanying their seizure disorder, according to a recent study.
In a survey, patients with epilepsy as a group ranked memory loss as their second-most important concern on a list of 20 potential medical or social concerns. Memory loss as a concern came in 12th in the frequency of responses among concerns recorded by physicians and nurse practitioners who completed the same survey.
Patients and practitioners agreed overall on three of the top five concerns: having a seizure unexpectedly, the legal right or ability to drive and seizures not being controlled. Practitioners ranked problems with medication side effects as their second-highest concern, and patients ranked being a burden to their family as their fifth-highest concern.
Both groups agreed that having a seizure unexpectedly was the No. 1 concern. Almost three-fourths of practitioners and just over half of patients ranked unexpected seizures as their biggest worry.
"In a lot of cases, there was a fair amount of overlap, but the thing that the patients had on their radar screen that practitioners didn't was the memory issue. Memory was a concern for a larger percentage of the patients than we had anticipated," said James McAuley, associate professor of pharmacy practice and neurology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study.
"Indirectly, we address memory concerns in the clinic by addressing seizures. But we don't typically sit down with a patient and say, 'Tell me about your memory.' This has heightened the awareness of our clinicians and should serve as a wake-up call to all practitioners treating people with epilepsy."
The National Institutes of Health describes epilepsy as a brain disorder affecting an estimated 2 million Americans in which clusters of nerve cells in the brain signal abnormally, causing strange sensat
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Ohio State University