Epilepsy Awareness Program - Prevalence and Incidence
Epilepsy and Seizure Statistics
Health condition statistics are typically expressed in terms of incidence and prevalence in a particular population within a specific period of time.
The prevalence and incidence of epilepsy varies across countries, however. Epidemiological data are crucial for physicians
and health care administrators planning management of patients with chronic diseases, such as epilepsy.
Incidence and Prevalence of Epilepsy:
Epilepsy is a chronic noncommunicable disorder of the brain. It occurs all over the world. In all areas, no less than three
out of every thousand people – and in several places over 40 per thousand (4%) – are affected. Every year, among every
100 000 persons there will be 40 – 70 new cases.
Epilepsy affects 50 million people worldwide, and 80% of them live in the developing world. Epilepsy is more likely to occur in young children, or people over the age of 65 years; however, it can occur at any time. As a consequence of brain surgery, epileptic seizures may occur in recovering patients too.
In 2004, the WHO estimated that nearly 80% of the burden of epilepsy worldwide is borne by the resource-poor countries. In developed countries, the lifetime prevalence rate for epilepsy ranges from 3.5 to 10.7 per 1,000 person-years, and the incidence rate ranges from 24 to 53 per 100,000 person-years. In recent systematic reviews, the lifetime prevalence rates for active epilepsy varied from 1.5 to 14 per 1,000 person-years in Asia, from 5.1 to 57.0 per 1,000 person-years in Latin America, and from 5.2 to 74.4 per 1,000 person-years in sub-Saharan Africa. It is unclear whether these wide variations within and between geographical regions are merely apparent (that is, attributable to misdiagnosis, varying definitions of epilepsy, failure to take account of the disease activity, and/or inconsistent definitions of active epilepsy) or whether they are real (that is, related to geographically relevant risk factors such as poverty, illiteracy, poor sanitation, inaccessibility of medical care, birth-related or accident-related head trauma, and/or cerebral cysticercosis). The median lifetime epilepsy prevalence rate in Asia (6 per 1,000 person-years) was lower than in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America (15 and 18 per 1,000 person-years, respectively). The annual incidence rates for epilepsy in Asia (29-60 per 100,000 person-years) did not differ significantly from the rates in developed countries, but the incidence rates were higher in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America (63-158 and 78-190 per 100,000 person-years, respectively). In contrast with the steady increase in epilepsy prevalence rates with advancing age that is seen in developed countries, the rates seem to peak in the second decade in resource-poor countries.
There is sufficient evidence available to show that 70 – 80% of people with epilepsy could lead normal lives if properly treated. Unfortunately, there is also evidence that in many countries more than 50% of people with epilepsy (and in certain areas up to 90%) are not properly treated. Part of this treatment gap is attributable to insufficient recognition that the symptoms of which these people
complain are caused by epilepsy.
Males are slightly more likely to develop epilepsy than females.
Medscape Today, WHO, International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), International Bureau for Epilepsy
See Also: Neurophysiology Health Corner