Management of epilepsy in elderly

Salvatore Striano 1, Nicola Ferrara 2,3, Maurizio Taglialatela 1, Tiziano Zanoni 4, Graziamaria Corbi 5

1 Department of Neuroscience, Reproductive and Odontostomatological Sciences, School of Medicine, “Federico II” University of Naples, Italy; 2 Department of Translational Medical Sciences, “Federico II” University of Naples, Italy; 3 Istituti Clinici Scientifici- ICS Maugeri S.p.A. Telese Terme (BN), Pavia, Italy; 4 Division of Neurology, Department of Neuroscience, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata of Verona, Italy; 5 Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Molise, Campobasso, Italy

The prevalence of seizures and epilepsy in the elderly is generally underestimated. Epileptic seizures are not a rare occurrence in the elderly and their prevalence increases with age. The clinical manifestations of seizures, the aetiology, the treatment and the psychosocial impact of the epilepsy diagnosis may differ in the elderly. Differential diagnosis with episodes of unconsciousness and/or fall or other non-epileptic manifestations is often difficult. The presence of comorbidities, the polypharmatherapy and the age-related pharmacokinetic changes can represent a problem for the treatment of epilepsy in the elderly, with a higher risk of adverse effects and potentially inappropriate drug interactions. Epileptic seizures in the elderly can have semiological characteristics similar to those of other age groups. On the other hand, the richness of the electroclinical syndromes of childhood and adolescence is not found in the elderly, and, in particular, idiopathic generalized epilepsies are rarely expressed at this age. Symptomatic seizures related to acute structural injury or metabolic causes are particularly frequent. Therapy management of the elderly with an epileptic seizure should concern not only neurologists, but also general practitioners, geriatricians, and cardiologists, therefore involving a wide range of clinical specialties. This review aims to summarize the management of epilepsy in the elderly, reporting also differences in epidemiology, electroclinical features, aetiology and diagnostic procedures.

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