Jenny Nyberg, PhD, from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and colleagues analyzed data from a population-based cohort of 1,173,079 Swedish male conscripts born from 1950–1987 who were followed for up to 40 years. Linked data from assessment of cardiovascular fitness during conscription exams and hospital registers were evaluated.
The researchers found that there were 6,796 individuals with epilepsy identified during the follow-up. Low and medium cardiovascular fitness (compared with high) at age 18 years was associated with increased risk of future epilepsy (hazard ratio, 1.79 and 1.36, respectively). When adjusting for familial influences and prior severe traumatic brain injury, cerebrovascular disease, or diabetes, the associations only changed marginally.
“We propose that behaviors that increase cardiovascular fitness may act as positive disease-modifiers for the development of epilepsy,” the authors write.