Wednesday, May 21, 2008 Provides Seizure Information to Help Educate the Public

BUSINESS, an award-winning patient care site, is providing accurate information regarding epilepsy and seizures to the public and the media in the wake of the reported seizure that hospitalized Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass) on May 17. The website of which Harvard Medical School Professor of Neurology, Steven C. Schachter, MD, is Editor-in-Chief, is an online resource for more than 200,000 unique visitors and one million page views per month. Dr. Schachter is also Director of Research for the Department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. We present here information and links to that should be helpful in understanding this event.

What is a seizure? A seizure is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain that usually affects how a person feels or acts for a short time ( Seizures are not a disease in themselves. Instead, they are a symptom of many different disorders that can affect the brain. Seizures can range from hardly noticeable to a convulsion (

What is epilepsy? Epilepsy is a neurological condition that affects the brain. Epilepsy is also known as a seizure disorder. Epilepsy is usually diagnosed after a person has had at least two seizures that were not caused by some non-neurological condition that secondarily affects the brain, such as extremely low blood sugar ( Although epilepsy is often considered a disorder of childhood, it can begin at any age. The rate of newly diagnosed epilepsy is actually higher in seniors (elderly people) than in middle-aged adults.

What tests are usually performed when a person has their first seizure? Because there are many possible causes of seizures, a thorough medical history is obtained and a variety of medical tests are performed to determine the cause, if possible, and to evaluate the risk of further seizures. Among the tests typically done are blood tests, a test of the brainwaves called an electroencephalogram (EEG), and brain imaging tests such as CT and MRI scans ( Very often, these tests do not reveal a cause.

What are the possible causes of seizures and epilepsy? There is a long list of possible causes ( because many of the conditions that affect brain function can possibly cause a seizure. The cause of recurrent seizures (epilepsy) that begin in later life cannot be determined in about half of the cases. Of those in whom the cause can be determined, the most common cause is strokes, including small ones that did not cause other symptoms.

When is treatment usually begun? If the medical evaluations and tests determine that a person has had more than one seizure, or that he or she is at substantial risk for a second seizure due to an identified problem with brain function, then therapy with medicines called anticonvulsants or antiepileptic drugs may be started (;

What is appropriate first aid for seizures? Here are a few things you can do to help someone who is having a seizure of any kind (

  • Stay calm.
  • Prevent injury. Move anything away that could harm the person if he or she struck it.
  • Pay attention to the length of the seizure.
  • Make the person as comfortable as possible.
  • Keep onlookers away.
  • Do not hold the person down.
  • Do not put anything in the person's mouth. Contrary to popular belief, a person having a seizure is incapable of swallowing their tongue so dont put your fingers or any object into the mouth of someone having a seizure.
  • Do not give the person water, pills, or food until fully alert.
  • If this is the first known seizure for the person, or it lasts more than five minutes, or there is an apparent injury, call 911.
  • Be sensitive and supportive, and ask others to do the same.

The mission of is to inform and empower patients and families facing newly diagnosed epilepsy or those struggling with epilepsy that has resisted treatment. is the home of the Epilepsy Therapy Project. Co-founded by Chairman Warren Lammert, it is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to a singular focus: overcoming the funding gaps and roadblocks that slow the progress of new epilepsy therapies from the lab to the patient.

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