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Response to First Treatment May Predict Epilepsy's Course
Date:5/9/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- The way someone responds to the first anti-seizure medication given after a diagnosis of epilepsy often predicts how well- controlled their seizures will be over time.

A new study found that about 50 percent of people became seizure-free after the first medication they took. By contrast, only 13 percent became seizure-free after the second drug was tried, and just 4 percent were seizure-free after a third drug was tried.

"The long-term treatment outcome is fairly constant, and thus predictable early on, in most people with epilepsy," said the study's lead author, Dr. Patrick Kwan, a professor of neurology at the University of Melbourne, in Australia. "Few patients become seizure-free after failure of the first two medications tried," he added.

Results of the study are published in the May 9 online issue of the journal Neurology.

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder. You generally have to have two or more unexplained seizures to be diagnosed with epilepsy, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. About 70 million people have epilepsy worldwide, according to background information in the study.

A number of medications are available to stop seizures, and these may be given alone or in combination. Brain surgery and other non-drug options are available for treating epilepsy.

The current study included nearly 1,100 people aged 9 to 93 who were newly diagnosed with epilepsy and prescribed one medication as their initial treatment. The median age of the study volunteers was 32 years, and they were followed for up to 26 years.

Sixty-eight percent were seizure-free at the final clinic visit. Sixty-two percent of those people were seizure-free on a single drug therapy. Study participants were considered seizure-free if they hadn't had a seizure in at least a year without any changes in their treatment.

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