Let’s imagine the scenario: you’re the registered manager of a care home for vulnerable adults. Your staff are all well trained, and understand how to deal with epilepsy skilfully and with dignity. But one day, tragically, somebody with epilepsy in your care home dies unexpectedly…
You had an up-to-date care plan in place. What more could you have done?
This isn’t meant to scare you. It’s simply meant to get us all thinking more about Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy. Perhaps we don’t talk about it enough.
Instances of SUDEP are relatively rare – affecting one in every thousand people with epilepsy – but that still accounts for 18% of all epilepsy-related deaths. (Source: http://www.epilepsyresearch.org.uk/research_portfolio/identifying-people-who-are-at-risk-of-sudep-2/)
So, let’s talk…
What causes SUDEP?
We don’t know for certain. Frustrating isn’t it?!
However, as research into SUDEP continues, we are building up a slightly more informed picture. It means we can identify people with a higher risk factor than others…
For example, we know that sudden deaths in epilepsy are connected with seizures. The more seizures a person has, the more likely they are to be at risk.
What are the SUDEP risk factors?
It is increasingly believed that there are some other big risk factors too, including:
- Early-onset of epilepsy.
- A susceptibility to generalised tonic-clonic seizures in which the person loses consciousness.
- Seizures whilst asleep.
- Seizures that are not controlled by medication.
The added frustration with these factors is that they are all hard to mitigate against. We can’t put measures in place to prevent people having seizures in their sleep for example. However, there are risk factors that we can try and address through better epilepsy training and education. Our training will enable your service to work towards reducing risks associated with epilepsy. Give us a call on <insert number> to find out more.
Some simple ways to combat SUDEP
It may not be possible to prevent all cases of SUDEP at this time, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty we can do as individuals and organisations to try and prevent as many cases as possible.
Perhaps the simplest way to reduce the likelihood of SUDEP is to reduce the number of seizures. Easier said than done? Maybe. But there are some very simple steps that we can discuss in our training.
Want to talk about SUDEP?
Give us a call on 01636 682888.