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Epileptic Seizures Can Be Duec to Heart Problem

British researchers have said that Many people thought to have epilepsy may have a heart problem instead. In a study, researchers closely examined people diagnosed with epilepsy who did not respond well to medication or had symptoms unusual for the disorder. They found that more than 40% had another medical problem--most often a heart or circulation condition--that could have caused the symptoms. "The key message is that misdiagnosis of epilepsy is common and that in many cases the true cause is cardiac," the study's lead author, Dr. Amir Zaidi, of the Manchester Heart Centre in the UK, told Reuters Health. People who are believed to have epilepsy, but whose symptoms are not controlled by medication, should be considered for several relatively simple tests to see whether a heart problem is to blame, he said. In the study, Zaidi and his colleagues evaluated 74 people who had been diagnosed with epilepsy. Even though most were taking one or more epilepsy drugs, about half of the patients were still having seizures or other symptoms. Some had relatively unusual symptoms for epileptics--such as blacking out in the absence of convulsions. The most common alternate diagnosis was vasovagal syncope, or fainting spells, which can be caused by extremely low blood pressure, a heart-rhythm disorder or other conditions. Many of the heart and circulation problems could be treated with medication or a pacemaker.

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