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Mortality, Morbidity & Risk

Reducing the risk of mortality is of great importance if we are to halt the harm caused by epilepsy, not just to those living with the condition, but also their family and friends.

People living with epilepsy are up to three times more likely to die prematurely than those without the condition. Every day, three people die from epilepsy-related deaths in the UK alone. Many of these deaths are potentially preventable, but to prevent them we need to better understand the causes and be able to identify those who are at risk.

The reasons why the mortality of people with epilepsy is significantly increased, even years after seizure onset, are not fully known.  Likewise, the mechanisms by which sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) occurs are poorly understood.

We will drive forward work that investigates the causes of SUDEP and other epilepsy related deaths by identifying risk factors and developing interventions to overcome them. This programme of work seeks to substantially reduce the mortality and morbidity of epilepsy, and will enable risks associated with the condition to be more effectively managed. 

Our research priorities

  • Invest in studies to identify mechanisms by which death and morbidity occur, and the development of safer health systems to minimise risks.
  • Identify mechanisms of SUDEP and other preventable epilepsy deaths, and devise methods to both predict and prevent these deaths.
  • Develop systems to identify who is at risk of adverse outcomes, injury or hospital admission, so that interventions can be proactively put in place. This includes better use of AI for health data, and establish better ways of working across health and social care providers.
  • Better understand the interplay between epilepsy and cardio and cerebrovascular health.
  • Identify mechanisms of long term harm from anti-seizure medication and of seizures (memory decline) and how they can be prevented.

Mortality, Risk & Morbidity theme leads

Clinical Co-Lead: Professor Arjune Sen, University of Oxford
Basic Science Co-Lead: Dr Rob Wykes, University of Manchester/UCL
Early Career Lead: Assistant Professor Amol Bhandare, University of Warwick

The Mortality, Risk & Morbidity theme leads will be supported by a task force of preeminent UK scientists and clinicians. The team is driving a research programme to feed into an overall roadmap for research into epilepsy in order to secure largescale investment.

Mortality, Risk & Morbidity on The Hub

Join The Hub – the online discussion portal for researchers working in the field of epilepsy and associated conditions – to find and share networking and collaboration opportunities, as well as workshops and events. If you would like to be involved in the task force group for the programme, you can find more information on The Hub here.