Having Seizures Refractory to Medical Treatment May Be Linked to More Frequent Seizures During Menstrual Cycle

  • drug-resistant epilepsy
  • Epilepsy
  • menstrual cycle
  • Seizures

A research study published in Neurology found that women who with relatively more frequent seizures during their menstrual cycle in women are more likely to have drug-resistant epilepsy. Women with catamenial epilepsy, in which seizure frequency increases during the menstrual cycle, were nearly 4 times more likely to have drug-resistant epilepsy than women who experience no change in frequency during their menstrual cycles. 

The study included 589 participants with or without drug-resistant genetic generalized epilepsy at the Columbia Comprehensive Epilepsy Center and 66 participants at Yale Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. The goal was to develop and validate a model for predicting drug-resistant generalized epilepsy.

A validated model may allow healthcare professionals to identify individuals who may benefit from more aggressive or different kinds of treatment. 

“Typically, genetic generalized epilepsy is thought to respond better to antiseizure medications than focal epilepsy,” said Gary Heiman, associate professor, Department of Genetics, Rutgers University. “However, previous studies suggest a minority of individuals, between 18% and 36%, with genetic generalized epilepsy do not respond well to these medications. It is unclear why seizures in these individuals do not respond well, and we sought to investigate why. We found a surprising association between women’s menstrual cycle and those with drug-resistant genetic generalized epilepsy. Understanding the reasons for this association could lead to alternative, personalized treatment options for at least some patients. Genetic and treatment studies of these women could uncover the reason, and tailored treatment could be developed.” 

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