Those with epilepsy worry more than their physicians do about the patients' potential memory loss accompanying their seizure disorder, according to a study at Ohio State University, Columbus. In a survey, individuals with epilepsy ranked memory loss as their second-most important concern on a fist of 20 potential medical or social fears. Memory loss came in 12th in the frequency of responses among concerns recorded by physicians and nurse practitioners.
Both groups agreed that having an unexpected seizure was the No. 1 fear. Almost three-fourths of practitioners and just over half of patients ranked unexpected seizures as their biggest worry.
The National Institutes of Health describes epilepsy as a brain disorder affecting an estimated 2,000,000 Americans in which clusters of nerve cells signal abnormally, causing strange sensations, emotions, and behavior or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. In about 80% of patients, seizures can be controlled with medication or surgery.
"The mantra in our clinic is, 'no seizures, no side effects,' so uncontrolled seizures are seen as a medical concern by practitioners," relates James McAuley, associate professor of pharmacy practice and neurology. "Patients tend to not want to have seizures because of the social stigma. An interesting point in this context is that we believe in the clinic that, if we can improve seizures, we will improve memory."
McAuley indicates that those with epilepsy know that cognition can become an issue over time. There...