Grant winner 2017

‘Very prolonged seizures (status epilepticus) can have devastating consequences and can result in death. It is critical to understand how recent changes in the treatment of seizures and epilepsy have impacted upon status epilepticus. Funding from ERUK will enable us to determine how common status epilepticus is in the UK, how that has changed over time and what impact that has had on epilepsy deaths.Professor Matthew Walker (pictured)

Grant type: Pilot grant

Principal investigator: Professor Matthew Walker

Institution: University College London

Amount: £11,275

Duration: 9 months

Scientific title: The incidence of status epilepticus in England 1990-2015

Status epilepticus is a prolonged seizure (lasting more than five minutes) that requires urgent treatment and hospital admission. It is a significant cause of mortality in people with epilepsy, accounting for approximately 10% of epilepsy deaths. Since the 1990’s, a lot of work has been carried out to establish care pathways and protocols for status epilepticus/prolonged seizures, so that all hospitals in the United Kingdom have clear treatment regimens to manage them.

Recent analyses suggest that the death rates for status epilepticus in England and Wales are falling, which may be due to improved/earlier treatment. However, it is impossible to know this for certain without knowing whether the frequency of status epilepticus has changed in the corresponding period (i.e. it could be that the fall in mortality rate is simply due to fewer cases of status epilepticus in that time).

The study
Currently there is no available data on the frequency of status epilepticus in England, or indeed whether the frequency of status epilepticus has changed over time. During this grant, Professor Walker and his colleagues hope to address this gap in knowledge.

To achieve this, the team will obtain information about hospital admissions due to status epilepticus in England, for the period 1990-2015, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). They will analyse the data to get an idea of the frequency of status epilepticus during this period, and find out if/how the frequency of status epilepticus changed. They will then see how their newly-acquired frequency data correlates with the mortality data that is already available.

The findings of this study will help to establish why a fall in mortality rate due to status epilepticus has been seen in recent years, and whether the care pathways in hospitals are responsible for this decrease. This will allow for a more informed assessment of current treatment regimens and their effectiveness.

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