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Alcohol dependency and epilepsy deaths - data reveals how lives might be saved

2 February 2017

Research from Ena Lynn (HRB) and others, reveals that in the majority of deaths due to epilepsy among people who are alcohol dependent, there were no anti-epileptic drugs in their systems at the time of deaths. It is possible therefore that many of these deaths could be prevented.

Ena Lynn, HRB

'We found that two-thirds of deaths amongst this vulnerable group did not have anti-epilepsy drugs in their system at the time of death', said Ena Lynn, the lead researcher on a recently published paper in the journal Seizure. Most of these deaths were middle-aged men, under 47 years of age'. 

'The data would suggest that there is a need to look at preventative measures for this group. These measures include better links and information sharing between the appropriate services including addiction and mental health'.

This secondary analysis of data gathered from analysis of Coroners' toxicology reports, was carried out as part of the work of the HRB National Drug Related Deaths Index team.

'This is a clear illustration of the downstream benefits that can be obtained when you properly interrogate health data,' said Dr Graham Love, Chief Executive of the Health Research Board.

You can read the abstract of the paper The role of alcohol dependency in deaths among people with epilepsy recorded by the National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) in Ireland, 2004–2013 at the link below.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27919010

The full list of authors is Ena Lynn, Suzi Lyons and Sarah Craig from the HRB and Yvonne Langan and Colin Doherty from St James's Hospital.

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