Epilepsy Ireland News

19-05-2009 | First Irish epilepsy prevalence data launched

19 May 2009
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The Prevalence of Epilepsy in Ireland Report, launched on May 19th by Brainwave The Irish Epilepsy Association reveals that there are up to 37,000 people with epilepsy in Ireland and that this number may be increasing.

The study was commissioned by Brainwave and conducted by the UCD Centre for Disability Studies. It is the first national epilepsy prevalence study undertaken anywhere in Europe and identifies for the first time, accurate figures on the number of people with epilepsy in Ireland.

It was launched in Dublin as part of National Epilepsy Week 2009.

The study confirms that epilepsy is the most common serious neurological condition presenting in Ireland today.

Among its key findings are:

  • A national prevalence of treated epilepsy of 9 per 1,000 people for those over the age of 5, meaning that there are 36,844 people over the age of 5 years living with epilepsy in Ireland
  • A gradual year-on-year increase in the prevalence of treated epilepsy for each year under consideration in the study (from 8.3 per 1,000 people in 2002 to 9.0 per 1,000 in 2005).
  • A national lifetime prevalence of self-reported epilepsy among adults of 10 per 1,000 people, meaning that 31,000 people over the age of 18 have been given a diagnosis of epilepsy.
  • An average of 17 cases of epilepsy seen each week per consultant neurologist, or 442 consultations nationwide per week.
  • An average of 13 patients with epilepsy in the care of each GP nationwide.
  • An estimated 67 episodes of in-patient care occurring weekly in Irish hospitals as a result of epilepsy, or 3,481 each year.

A summary of the report can be downloaded below.

Five separate sources of nationwide data were examined as part of the study: Prescription drug data, Self Report data gathered from the CSO's Quarterly National Household Survey, GP data, Specialist Care data and data from the Irish Hospital Inpatient Enquiry System.

The data also shows that the rate of treated epilepsy for those aged 5 years and above varies considerably by region. The lowest rates were observed in the Eastern Region (7.9 cases per 1,000 people in 2005) while the Western Region had the highest rates (10.8 cases per 1,000 people in 2005). The condition was also found to be more prevalent as age increases and is slightly more commonly observed in men.

Brainwave believes that the level of agreement observed across all five sources of data provides a comprehensive assessment of the prevalence of epilepsy in Ireland and the findings are broadly reflective of data coming from international studies.

The data will be of critical importance in planning current and future epilepsy service needs to ensure appropriate treatment is offered to those who need it.

Attached Documents

PDF icon Prevalence Report Summary (Prevalence_Summary.pdf | 195 kB)
DOC icon Prevalence Report 1-page summary (1_page_summary_Prevalence.doc | 48 kB)
DOC icon Prevalence Report Press release (Prevalence_report_press_release.doc | 97 kB)
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