(HealthDay News) – The response that newly-diagnosed epilepsy patients have to their first drug treatment may indicate their likelihood of achieving seizure freedom.

Martin J. Brodie, MD, from the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, UK, and colleagues followed 1,098 patients diagnosed with epilepsy and prescribed a first antiepileptic drug between 1982–2006. Participants were followed until 2008.

The researchers found that, at the end of follow-up, 68% of patients were seizure-free (no seizures for one year or more) and 62% were only taking one drug. Thirty-seven percent of patients experienced early and sustained seizure freedom, 22% experienced delayed but sustained seizure freedom, 16% experienced fluctuation between periods of seizure freedom and relapse, and 25% never achieved seizure freedom. The probability of seizure freedom was significantly higher in patients receiving one versus two drug regimens, and two versus three regimens. On subsequent regimens, <2% of patients became seizure-free, but a few did on their sixth or seventh regimen.

“Most patients with newly-diagnosed epilepsy had a constant course which could usually be predicted early,” the authors write. “The chance of seizure freedom declined with successive drug regimens, most markedly from the first to the third and among patients with localization-related epilepsies.”

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)
Editorial (subscription or payment may be required)