Some Hope for Tough Epilepsy Cases

Keppra can improve quality of life for epilepsy patients

(RxWiki News) Epilepsy patients can suffer from a variety of symptoms; it's not just about seizures. A drug offers hope for many quality of life improvements, but may pose risks for some patients.

Some patients' epilepsy does not respond fully to medication. A new study has indicated that, when used in addition to traditional treatments, Keppra (levetiracetam) may offer benefits to such patients' quality of life if it does not aggravate other psychological ailments.

"Tell your neurologist about any psychological conditions you may have."

The study conducted at the Daegu Fatima Hospital in Daegu, South Korea offers hope for patients suffering from epilepsy that does not fully respond to medication, known as "drug-refractory" epilepsy.

The study has shown that the antiepileptic drug Keppra can be effective at providing quality of life improvements when taken as a supplementary or "adjunctive" therapy alongside other drugs.

Unfortunately, the study also demonstrated the potential for serious adverse psychiatric side effects, including suicidal thoughts. The study took place over 24 weeks and involved 71 patients - 12 of whom discontinued Keppra treatment due to such side effects.

Patients with a prior history of psychiatric disease were more likely to discontinue treatment. Patients who did not suffer side effects serious enough to discontinue treatment saw significant improvements in anxiety levels, obsessive-compulsiveness, and somatization, which is a disorder involving multiple physical symptoms with no apparent physical cause.

There were also improvements on the Quality of Life in Epilepsy Inventory. Scores on seizure worry, overall quality of life, emotional well-being, energy-fatigue, and social function all improved.

The study concluded that Keppra offers promise to many suffering form partially drug-resistant epilepsy when used as an additional therapy in conjunction with other antiepilepsy medications.

However, the neurologist should be aware of a patient's previous psychiatric history, which can increase the patient's risk of aggravated symptoms or psychiatric events. Adverse events and symptoms may occur even in patients without prior histories of psychiatric illness.

The study was published September 7, 2011 in the Journal of Clinical Neurology.

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Review Date: 
December 14, 2011