Status Epilepticus

February 12, 2017

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

Status epilepticus is a seizure which lasts for a long time, or repeats without recovery. This prolonged or repeated seizure activity can result in death if it is not treated immediately.

Status epilepticus can be convulsive (tonic-clonic or myoclonic seizures) or non-convulsive(absence or complex partial seizures). A person in non-convulsive status epilepticus may appear confused or dazed.

Status epilepticus and mortality in status epilepticus are more common among seniors than in the rest of the population. (Mortality in status epilepticus is recognized as death within 30 days of the event.) The highest incidence of status epilepticus occurs during the first year of life and after age 60.

In seniors, the majority of status epilepticus cases are related to:

  • Cerebrovascular accidents
  • Metabolic problems
  • Decreased anticonvulsant medications, the level of the medication in the blood may have fallen too low. (This further shows the importance of taking your medication properly.)

Status epilepticus may occur as the first manifestation of a seizure disorder, or it may occur in a person known to have seizures. Status epilepticus is usually treated in hospital, where diazepam (Valium ®) or lorazepam (Ativan ®) is given intravenously. Phenobarbital is sometimes added intravenously. If your child is prone to status epilepticus, your doctor may teach you to administer diazepam or lorazepam suppositories at home.

While it is not believed to cause brain damage, it should be stopped as soon as possible.