Seizure-Free Depends on First Treatment

Epilepsy patients response to their first treatment can indicate future seizures

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Having a seizure-free life is a common goal for those living with epilepsy. It often takes several attempts to find the right medication to control seizures and fits.

According to a recent study, the ease with which epilepsy is controlled can be predicted by a patient’s response to their first treatment for the disorder.

If seizures are not eliminated by the second treatment, there is little likelihood that subsequent treatments will help.

"Ask your doctor about epilepsy medications before surgery."

The study followed 1,098 newly diagnosed Scottish epilepsy sufferers aged nine to 93 years from receipt of their first treatment for up to 26 years. A participant was classified as seizure-free if there were no seizures for a period of one year.

If they experienced a seizure after the initial treatment, they were treated with a different drug. This process was repeated up to a maximum of 9 drugs tried.

50 percent of participants were seizure-free after the first drug, 13 percent were seizure-free after the second drug and four percent were seizure-free after the third drug.

Beyond three treatment methods, less than two percent achieved seizure-free status. No participant was listed as seizure-free beyond seven treatment methods.

There was no correlation between results of the study and age or type of epilepsy.

Additionally, 37 percent were found to be seizure-free within six months and 22 percent after six months. These two groups continued to be seizure-free. Sixteen percent of participants fluctuated between being seizure-free and relapsing while 25 percent never experienced a one year period of time without a seizure.

68 percent of participants ended the study seizure-free and 62 percent were only on one drug.

The next course of action for those who are unable to control seizures through medication may be surgery or verification of the epilepsy diagnosis.

The study was published in the May online issue of Neurology, a medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology and was authored by Patrick Kwan, MD, PhD, with the University of Melbourne in Australia.

No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 28, 2012
Last Updated:
August 17, 2012