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Baroreflex sensitivity in individuals with epilepsy: Does it play a role in SUDEP? [COMPLETED]

Principal Investigator: 
Dr. Yvonne Langan, St. James's Hospital, Dublin


€75,000. Funding for this project has been made available through the Barbara Doyle memorial fund. Barbara passed away as a result of SUDEP in 2007. In 2008, her friends and family embarked on a substantial fundraising campaign which raised almost �50,000 for SUDEP awareness and research. Epilepsy Ireland would like to thank everyone involved again for their support which has enabled us to fund this important project.

About this project:

Individuals with epilepsy have a higher death rate than the general population. This is in part due to the underlying condition that causes the epilepsy such as brain tumour or stroke. Some deaths also occur as a direct result of seizures, an entity called sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).

The mechanism is not known but it is commonest in those with poorly controlled epilepsy. There is some evidence that abnormalities of heart rhythm or breathing abnormalities are involved. Some investigators have found evidence of abnormality in the area of the nervous system which controls cardiac function. Baroreflex sensitivity is a measure of this control and this is what this study will measure. It is measured by recording heart rate and blood pressure in relaxed individuals during paced breathing. The researchers will compare baroreflex sensitivity in people with epilepsy to that in control individuals who don't have epilepsy.

This study will involve larger numbers than previous studies and will look at different types of epilepsy and examine the influence of treatment. It will allow the researchers to comment on the role that baroreflex sensitivity may play in causing SUDEP.


Results of the study can be downloaded in the pdfs at the end of the page. Note that there is a detailed scientific report and a short 'lay summary' originally published in Epilepsy News.

See also our YouTube video (May 2013)

Downloadable Resources