Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP)

The exact cause of SUDEP is not fully known. However, researchers believe it may involve several factors. They believe that seizures may play a role, particularly those that disturb your heartbeat or affect your ability to breathe.

Other potential factors include:

  • Respiratory dysfunction (such as asthma or cystic fibrosis)
  • Cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
  • Brain abnormalities
  • Genetic factors

Everyone with epilepsy has a different risk of SUDEP. The risk factors associated with SUDEP include:

  • Unmanaged or frequent seizures
  • Not taking prescribed antiepileptic medication as directed

It is important to understand the potential risks and discuss them with your neurologist.