Our daughter Jane died from SUDEP & possibly from ours and her ignorance. Nearly half of all SUDEP deaths are avoidable. Stay Alive - Read On.

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Jargon behind SUDEP

For people with chronic epilepsy the main cause of SUDEP is, "Periictal cardiorespiratory alterations such as central apnea, bradyarrhythmia, and neurogenic pulmonary edema."

Phew!  Just trying to say that sends me into heart palpitations.  But behind the main tenet of this blog is the requirement that doctors, neurologists and other specialists can get to grip with such sentences and interpret them for mere mortals.  If you are an addict for such jargon then the full text of a 2010 article in Epilepsia on the causes and potential treatments for sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is now available.

Trying to read this article is, as I have said not easy.  If I can take you to one of its conclusions then I will try to give that my interpretation.

"Pathologic cardiac repolarization is not uncommon in people with epilepsy and could be one plausible mechanism underlying ventricular tachyarrhythmia ultimately leading to SUDEP"
So what does this mean?  Repolarization is the opposite of depolarzation and might otherwise be thought of as muscle contraction and relaxation.  When SUDEP occurs there are generally thought to be two causes, either heart or lung failure.  So, in my mind, what I envision is that a seizure, for whatever reason cause the heart and/or the lungs to simply seize up.

So whereas a seizure associated with epilepsy normally manifests itself in body movements, perhaps what they are saying is that a seizure may also occur in internal organs such as the heart itself.

I'll stop my conjecture there.  I am no expert, and such jargon can be quite daunting.  The report was first published in 2010 and now the full text is available.  Let us hope that its dissemination to a wider public helps uncover the root causes for SUDEP.

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