Conference Coverage

In epilepsy, heart issues linked to longer disease duration



Implications for clinical practice

During the Q&A, Dr. Bartlett was asked if all kids with epilepsy should undergo an EKG. She recommended against it for now. “At this point, I don’t think we have enough clear data to support getting an EKG on every kid with epilepsy. I do think it’s good practice to do them on all kids with channelopathies. As a general practice, I tend to have a low threshold towards many kids with epilepsy, but a lot of these cardiovascular risk factors tend to pop up more in adulthood, so it’s more preventative,” she said.

Grace Gombolay, MD, who moderated the session where the poster was presented, was asked for comment on the study. “What’s surprising about it is that up to half of patients actually had EKG changes, different what from what we see in normal population, and it’s interesting to think about the implications. One of the things that our epilepsy patients are at risk for is SUDEP – sudden, unexplained death in epilepsy. It’s interesting to think about what these EKG changes mean for clinical care. I think it’s too early to say at this time, but this might be one of those markers for SUDEP,” said Dr. Gombolay, who is an assistant professor at Emory University, Atlanta, and director of the Pediatric Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The researchers prospectively studied 213 patients who were recruited. 46% were female, 42% were white, 41% were Hispanic, and 13% were African American. The mean age at enrollment was 116 months, and mean age of seizure onset was 45 months.

The researchers found that 47% had abnormal EKG readings. None of the changes were pathologic, but they may reflect changes to cardiac electrophysiology, according to Dr. Bartlett. Those with abnormal readings were older on average (11.6 vs. 8.3 years; P < .005) and had a longer epilepsy duration (73 vs. 46 months; P = .004).

Dr. Gombolay has no relevant financial disclosures.


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