Aging and the Epidemiology of Epilepsy

Ettore Beghi, Giorgia Giussani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Epilepsy is a chronic disorder affecting all ages but with a peak in the elderly. The association of epilepsy with age can be explained by the predominance of brain diseases with epileptogenic potential (mostly stroke and dementia) and by the effects of the aging process through a number of molecular mechanisms involving networks of neurons with focal or diffuse distribution.

SUMMARY: The prevalence of active epilepsy is 6.4 per 1,000 and the lifetime prevalence is 7.6 per 1,000. The prevalence tends to increase with age, with peaks in the oldest age groups and in socially deprived individuals. The incidence of epilepsy is 61.4 per 100,000 person-years. Epilepsy has a bimodal distribution according to age with peaks in the youngest individuals and in the elderly. The increased incidence of seizures and epilepsy in the elderly can be attributed to the increase of age-related and aging-related epileptogenic conditions. Key Messages: As the world population is steadily growing with parallel increase in the number of aged subjects, in the future, epilepsy will represent a huge burden for the society. Measures must thus be taken to prevent seizures and epilepsy through the reduction of preventable epileptogenic factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-223
Number of pages8
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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