Seizure Risk High in People with Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Alzheimer Disease
  • Dementia
  • Epilepsy
  • Seizures

Data presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles, July 14-18, 2019 show that people living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have epileptic seizures up to 6.5 times more often than those without AD. People with dementia are also at higher risk for recurring seizures and for having a first seizure at a younger age than people without dementia who have seizures and this risk increases with time since diagnosis of AD. 

In a study analyzing health records for more than 2.8 million individuals, age 60 or more, 2.8% had a dementia diagnosis and were followed from 2005 to 2014. 
Study participants with dementia had a higher risk of new-onset or first-time seizures including a   

•    6.5 times increased risk for seizures of unknown origin
•    6 times higher risk for partial seizures
•    5.2 times higher risk for generalized and undifferentiated epilepsy
•    4.75 times higher risk for generalized seizures and partial epilepsy 

“There may be many reasons for these higher rates, including the medications used to treat dementia, other medical conditions associated with both seizures and dementia, or a combination of factors,” said Ruby Castilla-Puentes, MD, DrPH, MBA, director, clinical research, neuroscience, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. “More research is needed to answer that question.” 

Analysis of data from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center comprising 20,745 people found that the longer the individuals had been living with AD, the higher their risk for having a seizure (1.5% at 4.8 years; 5.4% at 11 years). More than two-thirds (70.4%) of people in the study who experienced a seizure had a second seizure within the next 7.5 months.  

“People with Alzheimer’s are at increased risk for seizures, in particular in more advanced stages of the disease, and they have an exceptionally high recurrence risk,” said Jonathan Vöglein, MD, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases.  

Based on guidelines from the International League Against Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease patients could lead to a diagnosis of epilepsy, based on the guidelines of the International League Against Epilepsy, and may call for an antiepileptic treatment. 

New Study to Test Lifestyle Interventions for Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease

Previous News Article

The Complex Role of Sleep and Sleep Medications in Alzheimer’s Disease

Next News Article
This Month's Issue
Teleneurology for Primary Headache Disorders

Jennifer Robblee, MD, MSc; Amaal J. Starling, MD; Rashmi B. Halker Singh, MD, FAHS, FAAN; and Nina Riggins, MD, PhD

Poststroke Telerehabilitation

Claire Smyth, BSc; David Roberts, BSc; and Kenneth Monaghan, PhD