Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the most common cause of death in patients with intractable epilepsy. The substantial lifetime risk of SUDEP and the lack of a clear pathophysiological connection between epilepsy itself and sudden death have fuelled increased attention to this phenomenon. Understanding the mechanisms underlying SUDEP is paramount to developing preventative strategies. In this review, we discuss SUDEP population studies, case–control studies, witnessed and monitored cases, as well as human seizure cardiorespiratory findings related to SUDEP, and SUDEP animal models. We integrate these data to suggest the most probable mechanisms underlying SUDEP. Understanding the modifiable risk factors and pathophysiology allows us to discuss potential preventative strategies.
- EPILEPSY, SURGERY
- RESPIRATORY MEDICINE