Conference Coverage

Patients describe significant impact of epilepsy on their lives



Adults with focal epilepsy report a range of high-disturbance symptoms and disease-related impacts on their daily lives at different disease stages, illustrating the complexity of the disease from the patient perspective, said Jacqueline French, MD, a professor at the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at New York University.

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“This underscores the need to consider these experiences, and potentially the stage of disease, when developing patient-reported outcome measures,” she said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.

To describe the patient’s experience of living with epilepsy, including the occurrence of disease-related signs and symptoms and impact on daily life at different disease stages, Dr. French conducted qualitative, semistructured interviews with adults with focal epilepsy at the following stages: early (1 year or less since diagnosis), middle (1-5 years since diagnosis), and late (more than 5 years since diagnosis). The patients had varying seizure frequency and treatment experiences. They were asked to describe the symptoms and functional impact they had experienced related to epilepsy, and then to rate the degree to which each symptom and impact “bothered” them, using a disturbance rating scale from 0 (not at all) to 10 (extremely).

A total of 62 patients who were aged 18-60 years (mean age, 37 years; 73% female) were interviewed. In all, 19 of the patients had early-stage disease, 17 had middle-stage, and 26 had late-stage disease. Symptoms reported with the highest frequency and highest average disturbance (AD) ratings across all cohorts included twitching/tremors (80% of patients; AD, 5.3), confusion (78%; AD, 7.8), difficulty talking (75%; AD, 8.1), impaired/loss of consciousness (70%; AD, 6.8), stiffening (65%; AD, 5.4), déjà vu (62%; AD, 5.1), difficulty remembering (60%; AD, 8.5), and dizziness/light-headedness (58%; AD, 6.4).

The high-frequency/high-disturbance daily impact of epilepsy included the inability to drive (74%; AD, 7.1), limited ability to work and/or go to school (61%; AD, 6.7), limitations on leisure and social activities (58%; AD, 6.3), and memory loss (47%; AD, 8.4).

Dr French noted that, although disease experiences were similar among the cohorts, some heterogeneity across patient subgroups was observed.

Eisai sponsored the study.

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