Monday, September 25, 2017

Blog #86: What We All Knew Is Now Documented: Stress & Missed Sleep Trigger Seizures

            According to a report presented at the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, stress was found to be the most common trigger of seizures. Stress was linked to 37% of seizures in a study population. The research was led by Gregory Krauss, MD, Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins University and is summarized in the June 2017 issue of Neurology Reviews ( Dr. Krauss and colleagues used an Apple Watch app called EpiWatch to track seizures over ten months. The app was created using Research-Kit, which was designed by Apple to aid researchers to gather this data.

            When the 598 participants perceived a seizure aura they would open the app. Then EpiWatch recorded heart rate and body movements for 10 minutes. The app asked the person to perform tasks to test responsiveness. The patient was asked to record seizure type, aura, loss of awareness and possible seizure triggers. The app also helped track medication use and drug side effects.

            Forty percent of the group tracked a total of 1,485 of their seizures. Information about the person’s opinion of a possible seizure-trigger was also tracked. The most common reported trigger was stress, linked to 37% of seizures. Participants also identified lack of sleep as a trigger for 18% of the seizures, menstruation for 12% and over-extension of their activities for 11%. Other reported triggers included diet (9%), missed medications (7%), and fever or infection (6%). Seizure triggers did not vary by the type of seizure.

            Those participants who worked full-time reported stress as the trigger in 35% of their seizures compared with 21% of seizures in part-time workers. The investigators found that unemployed people reported stress as a trigger in 27% and disabled people reported stress was a trigger in 29% of their seizures. Missed medication was a trigger in 40%, especially in younger people ages 16-25 years, while among older people ages 26-66, thirty-four percent reported missed medications as a trigger.

            The investigators hope to be able to use wearable technology to predict oncoming seizures.

Lance Fogan, M.D. is Clinical Professor of Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “DINGS” is his first novel. It is a mother’s dramatic story that teaches epilepsy, now available in eBook, audiobook and soft cover editions.