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Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 May Help Reduce Risk of Stroke in People Taking AEDs

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 07:58

The use of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) may decrease the levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 in the blood, according to a study published in the international scientific journal, Biomedical Reports.

According to the authors this could be linked to a higher risk of stroke in people with different types of epilepsy. Therefore, giving these people regular folic acid and vitamin B12 supplements may be beneficial*.

For the study, a team of scientists at The First People’s Hospital of Xuzhou, in China, analysed 68 people with epilepsy. Eight of them had autonomic seizures, 10 had absence seizures, 13 had complex partial seizures, 28 had generalized tonic-clonic seizures and nine had simple partial seizures. All participants received appropriate AED treatment for their type of epilepsy.

After one year of treatment, the researchers analysed the differences in the level of folic acid and vitamin B12 in the blood of the participants, as well as any events of stroke.

They found that there was no difference in the levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 in the blood of participants who had different types of epilepsy. This was the case both before and after the start of treatment with AEDs. However, when they looked at the levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 in the blood of the participants in each group before and after AED treatment, they saw that the levels had decreased following treatment.

The researchers also found that there was no difference in the incidence of strokes between the groups, but that strokes were associated with the levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 in the blood. In-depth statistical analysis revealed that levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 may be independent risk factors for the development of stroke in epilepsy.

The authors conclude that, although additional studies are required to confirm these results, folic acid and vitamin B12 supplements might decrease the risk of stroke in people who are taking AEDs.

Author: Dr Özge Özkaya

*Please note that taking supplements without medical advice may be harmful. Please consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.

Click here for more articles about anti-epileptic drugs and pregnancy risks.

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Newly Identified Biomarker Could Predict the Onset and Progression of Epileptic Seizures

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 07:45

Researchers at the University of Colorado have identified a new biomarker that could predict the onset and progression of seizures associated with epilepsy.

Biomarkers are substances found in the blood or urine that can indicate a biological state or a medical condition. They are invaluable in helping clinicians diagnose or predict the progression of a condition and measure how well the body responds to a certain treatment.

The study, published in the scientific journal Redox Biology, suggests that the ratio of two forms of an amino acid (building blocks of proteins) called cysteine could be used as a reliable biomarker to predict the onset or progression of epileptic seizures.

Dr Manisha Patel and Dr Li-Ping showed that the levels of cysteine decreased by 42% and 62% respectively in two different rat models of epilepsy, whilst the levels of cystine, the oxidised form of the amino acid, increased by 46% and 23% respectively. When the scientists treated the animals with an antioxidant, the decrease in the cysteine/cystine ratio was abolished.

The researchers concluded that the ratio of cysteine/cystine could be a reliable measure of epilepsy.

In a press release, Dr Patel said: “Currently the field of epilepsy lacks peripheral blood-based biomarkers that could predict the onset or progression of chronic seizures following an epileptogenic injury. We are confident that this study is a significant step toward changing this, and will one day help those living with temporal lobe epilepsy.”

Author: Dr Özge Özkaya

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The Coil is a Safe and Acceptable Method of Contraception for Women with Epilepsy, Study Suggests

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 08:59

The progestin-containing intrauterine device, also known as the coil, is a safe and well-tolerated form of contraception for women with epilepsy, according to a study published in the scientific journal, Epilepsia.

“Although popular among all women, complex drug interactions limit the efficacy and safety of oral contraceptives for [women with epilepsy],” the authors write.

They add: “Effective contraception enables women with epilepsy to plan their pregnancies and improve outcomes for themselves and their children.”

For the study, a team of researchers led by Dr Alison Pack, from Columbia University Medical Center, analysed 20 women with well-controlled epilepsy, who were on a stable antiepileptic drug (AED) regime. The AED most frequently taken amongst the group was lamotrigine. The average age of the women was 28, and 60% of them had not been pregnant before. All had experienced multiple seizures in the past.

The researchers measured the lowest (or ‘trough’) concentration of AED in the blood of the women before insertion of the coil, and again three weeks, three months and six months after. They did this because, for seizure control and AED safety to be maintained, it is important the level doesn’t change significantly.

The results showed that the lowest concentration of AED in the blood of the women remained stable during the six months following insertion of the coil.

The researchers also asked the women to record their seizures in a daily diary. They then compared the seizures that occurred during the month before insertion of the coil with those occurring in the six month following insertion.

During the month prior to insertion of the coil, 75% of the women did not have any seizures, whilst the remaining 25% had between one and three seizures.

After insertion of the coil, seizure frequency increased in three women, remained unchanged in 13 women and decreased in four women. Interestingly, none of the women said they felt a decrease in seizure control as a result of the coil.

The authors report that all participants were either “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the coil, and that all participants continued to use it six months after insertion. They also confirm that no pregnancies occurred during the study.

These results suggest that the coil is an acceptable form of contraception for women with epilepsy.

Author: Dr Özge Özkaya

Click here to read more stories about living with epilepsy.

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Gluten-free Diet Could Help Control Seizures in People With Epilepsy who Have Celiac Disease

Tue, 10/04/2016 - 05:50

A gluten-free diet could help control seizures in people with epilepsy who have celiac disease, according to a study published in the scientific journal Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine.

The researchers, led by Dr Mohammad Ghadami, at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, in Iran, studied 113 people with epilepsy in two Iranian hospitals. They first measured the levels of a protein called ‘anti-immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibody’ in their blood, which is indicative of celiac disease. They then took two to three small intestine biopsies from those tested positive for IgA antibodies, to confirm the presence of celiac disease. A total of seven people (6% of all those with epilepsy) were diagnosed with celiac disease in this way.

These seven people then received a gluten-free diet for five months and their seizure activity was recorded. The results showed that at the end of the five months, seizures were completely under control and antiepileptic drugs were discontinued for six of the seven subjects. For the remaining one paticipant, anticonvulsant drugs were reduced by half and seizures were controlled.

These findings suggest that people with epilepsy who have gastrointestinal symptoms should be screened for celiac disease, since the administration of a combination of a gluten-free diet and anticonvulsant treatment may be effective in treating them.

Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune condition affecting the small intestine, which gets worse when gluten-containing foods such as wheat and its products are consumed.

Although the mechanisms underlying the association between celiac disease and epilepsy are not fully understood, some researchers have speculated that antibodies related to celiac disease may be toxic for neurons and trigger the development of epilepsy. A number of studies have shown that epilepsy can also develop in other immune-mediated conditions such as systemic lupus and myasthenia gravis.

Author: Dr Özge Özkaya

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