Epilepsy in the elderly

Gina Mapes Jetter, Jose E. Cavazos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


There are many unique characteristics in elderly patients with epilepsy. The incidence of seizures in this age group is the highest of any age group and continues to increase as people live longer. Etiology of seizures is different than for adults and includes cerebrovascular disease, dementia, closed head injury, and metabolic encephalopathies. The elderly patient with epilepsy most often presents with complex partial seizures that have a higher recurrence rate than the younger population. The seizures are often difficult to diagnose since they present with atypical symptoms, particularly prolonged postictal symptoms, including memory lapses, confusion, altered mental status, and inattention. There are also therapeutic challenges due to age-related changes in pharmacokinetics, including variations in absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion. These must be considered when selecting antiepileptic drug (AED) therapy to avoid harmful side effects. In addition, several of the AEDs have drug-drug interactions, a problem potentially exacerbated in this population of patients due to the use of medications for comorbid conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-341
Number of pages6
JournalSeminars in Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Antiepileptic drugs
  • Epilepsy
  • Geriatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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