A recently published review has shown that children and adults with epilepsy are more likely than others to have additional chronic conditions.

The review found that multimorbidity, defined as the presence of two or more chronic conditions in an individual, affects 60–70 per cent of adults with epilepsy and 80 per cent of children with this brain disorder.

“Neurodevelopmental conditions are commonly seen in children with epilepsy, while cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative conditions often afflict older people with epilepsy,” said Perron Institute and SCGH Consultant Neurologist Dr Athanasios (Thanasis) Gaitatzis, who leads the Institute’s Epilepsy Research group.

“Mental health problems are also common across the lifespan.

“Multimorbidity is now recognised as one of the greatest challenges for health and social care systems. It is considered an emerging priority for global health research due to its associations with the ageing population, frailty, polypharmacy (concurrent use of multiple medicines), and health and social care demands.

Dr Gaitatzis was first author of the review ‘Multimorbidity in people with epilepsy’ published in Seizure: the European Journal of Epilepsy. The work was co-authored by Professor Azeem Najeed, Head of Primary Care and Public Health at Imperial College London.

“This is the first comprehensive review on multimorbidity in people with epilepsy and addresses its burden, common patterns, risk factors, mechanisms of association, polypharmacy and effects on healthcare,” Dr Gaitatzis said.

“We hope that the findings will help neurologists and other specialists take multimorbidity into account when caring for people with epilepsy.

“People with multiple morbidity have increased healthcare needs and require more intensive monitoring and treatment. A patient centred approach is essential.”