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Failure to Take Seizure Drugs Boosts Death Risk

Car accidents, bone breaks also common among those who don't take meds regularly, study says

WEDNESDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- People with epilepsy are up to three times more likely to die if they fail to take their seizure medication regularly, according to a new study.

The study also found that these people -- who missed taking their epilepsy medication more than two out of every 10 occasions over a three-month period -- had an 86 percent increase in hospital visits and a 50 percent jump in emergency room visits, compared with people who took their medication regularly during that time.

A significantly higher incidence of car accidents and bone breaks were also common among those who failed to take their medicine regularly, the researchers found.

The findings, published in the June 18 online issue of Neurology, are based on analysis of insurance records of almost 34,000 people with epilepsy, collected in three U.S. state Medicaid programs over eight and a half years.

"These results are concerning since some studies show about 30 to 50 percent of people with epilepsy do not take their medication regularly," study author Dr. Edward Faught, director of the University of Alabama Epilepsy Center in Birmingham, said in a prepared statement.

"There are many reasons epileptic patients fail to take their seizure medications, including cost, side effects and pregnancy. But this study suggests that none of those reasons overshadow the threat of death or other problems related to uncontrolled seizures. Patients need to stay on their medications, and physicians need to recognize and treat issues related to people failing to take epilepsy drugs," he said.

More information

The Epilepsy Foundation has more about epilepsy.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, June 16, 2008

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