Treatment for epilepsy in later life

Old age is now the commonest time to develop epilepsy, often as a consequence of underlying cerebrovascular or neurodegenerative disease. Age-related physiological changes can affect the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of antiepileptic drugs. Only three double-blind, head-to-head, randomised, controlled trials have been undertaken in this patient population and so pharmacological treatment tends to be empirical, often based on what antiepileptic drug not to chose for an individual patient. The available evidence has tended to favour lamotrigine, and perhaps gabapentin, over carbamazepine, based on better tolerability rather than superior efficacy for newly diagnosed epilepsy in this population. Preliminary data with levetiracetam suggest that this drug will also be useful in older people as a consequence of its favourable side effect profile and lack of idiosyncratic reactions and drug interactions. Despite the dearth of high quality trial evidence, published outcome data hint at a good prognosis with a single antiepileptic drug for the majority of elderly people with epilepsy. A few patients will require low dose combination therapy. Epilepsy surgery is also an occasional option in this population. As life expectancy rises, so will the likelihood of presenting with seizures in later life placing an increasing burden on healthcare resources. <<< leia mais >>>

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