Status Epilepticus

Status Epilepticus is considered a medical emergency.
Immediate medical care is required.

Most seizures run their course and end naturally on their own within seconds or a few minutes. Status epilepticus is a seizure that lasts for 30 minutes or longer, or when seizures repeat without recovery in between. This prolonged or repeated seizure activity can be life-threatening and requires emergency medical care. Call 911 if a convulsive seizure has not come to an end by 5 minutes, or if a second seizure begins before the person has fully recovered from the previous seizure. In addition to convulsive status epilepticus, which is an emergency, status epilepticus can be non-convulsive (absence or complex partial seizures) too. A person in non-convulsive status epilepticus may appear confused or dazed and should be seen by a health care professional or taken to an urgent care centre. Status epilepticus may occur as the first manifestation of a seizure disorder, or it may occur in a person known to have seizures. The highest incidence of status epilepticus and mortality in status epilepticus occurs during the first year of life and after age 60. (Mortality in status epilepticus is recognized as death within 30 days of the event.) In seniors, the majority of status epilepticus cases are related to:

  • Cerebrovascular accidents
  • Metabolic problems
  • Decreased anticonvulsant medications

Prolonged convulsive seizure activity can cause brain injury, or damage to other organs, and should be stopped as soon as possible. Status epilepticus is usually treated in a hospital, using the following possible intravenous treatments:

If the person is prone to status epilepticus, the doctor may teach his/her caregiver to administer a special fast-acting form of these rescue medications at home.