It refers to a death in a person with epilepsy in which there is no other clear cause of death (such a cancer, stroke, heart disease or an accident). In cases of SUDEP, there is often evidence of an associated seizure.
The most common criteria used to determine whether a death is due to SUDEP are:
- The person has epilepsy, which is defined as recurrent unprovoked seizures.
- The person died unexpectedly while in a reasonable state of health.
- The death occurred suddenly and during normal activity (often during sleep).
- An obvious medical cause of death could not be determined at autopsy.
- The death was not the direct result of status epilepticus.
At the moment physiopatological mechanisms that lead to SUDEP are unknown and there are currently no proven ways to prevent it.
International group of collaborating researchers are currently dedicated to uncovering the risk factors, causes, and mechanism of SUDEP to improve future epilepsy treatment and SUDEP prevention. Patients community can help studies sharing data and materials.