People with dementia are at an increased risk of seizures

16 July 2019

US-based researchers have found that people with dementia are at an increased risk of experiencing seizures. They presented their findings today (Monday 15 July) at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2019 in Los Angeles.

People with dementia are at increased risk of many seizure types

In the first of two studies, researchers in the US from Janssen Pharmaceuticals and the University of Cincinnati found that people with Alzheimer’s disease experience seizures up to six-and-a-half times more often than people without dementia.

The team looked at the records of nearly 80,000 people with a diagnosis of dementia between the years of 2005 to 2014. Using this information, they also found that the risk of seizures in people with dementia where the origin could not be determined was greater than the risk of those with dementia who experienced solely epileptic seizures.

People in later stages of dementia are more at risk of seizures

In a separate study presented at the LA conference, scientists from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Centre, found that people with dementia are at higher risk of having recurring seizures than people without the degenerative condition.

Using information from over 20,000 study participants, researchers found that not only was the prevalence of seizures higher in people with Alzheimer’s but that it was more common in more advanced disease stages.

Expert comment on the findings

Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Doctors need to be aware of the increased risk of seizures in people living with dementia, so that they can provide their patients with the best possible diagnosis, treatment and support. Seizures can have an enormous impact on people’s lives and may be particularly distressing for people with dementia who already face a range of challenging symptoms.

“Although seizures are commonly associated with epilepsy, this research indicates that people with dementia are at an increased risk of different seizure types and we need to get to the bottom of why this is the case.

“While most people think of memory problems when they hear the word of dementia, the condition encompasses a range of complex symptoms and it can affect people in many different ways.

“Anyone who has dementia or is caring for someone with the condition who has concerns about their symptoms should consult their doctor.”