Mortality in Patients With Late-Onset Epilepsy: Results From the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study

Emily L. Johnson, Gregory L. Krauss, Anna Kucharska-Newton, Alice D. Lam, Rani Sarkis, Rebecca F. Gottesman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: To determine the risk of mortality and causes of death in persons with late-onset epilepsy (LOE) compared to those without epilepsy in a community-based sample, adjusting for demographics and comorbid conditions. Methods: This is an analysis of the prospective Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, initiated in 1987-1989 among 15,792 mostly Black and White men and women in 4 US communities. We used Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services fee-for-service claims codes to identify cases of incident epilepsy starting at or after age 67. We used Cox proportional hazards analysis to identify the hazard of mortality associated with LOE and to adjust for demographics and vascular risk factors. We used death certificate data to identify dates and causes of death. Results: Analyses included 9,090 participants, of whom 678 developed LOE during median 11.5 years of follow-up after age 67. Participants who developed LOE were at an increased hazard of mortality compared to those who did not, with adjusted hazard ratio 2.39 (95% confidence interval 2.12-2.71). We observed excess mortality due to stroke, dementia, neurologic conditions, and end-stage renal disease in participants with compared to without LOE. Only 4 deaths (1.1%) were directly attributed to seizure-related causes. Conclusions: Persons who develop LOE are at increased risk of death compared to those without epilepsy, even after adjusting for comorbidities. The majority of this excess mortality is due to stroke and dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1132-E1140
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 14 2021

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Academy of Neurology.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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