Long-Term Treatment With Antiepileptic Medications Can Improve Quality of Life for People with Epilepsy

Early improvements in health-related quality of life for epilepsy patients were sustained over several years of treatment with the antiepileptic drug levetiracetam, according to new research presented today by Yale School of Medicine researchers at the 55th American Epilepsy Society annual meeting.

Patients participating in a long-term study, whose seizures were resistant to standard treatments, saw improvement from baseline to four years in seizure worry, emotions, energy, cognition, medication effects, social function, health status and overall quality of life.

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that affects over 2.3 million Americans or one in every 100 people, regardless of race, age or sex. Although epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder globally, many are unaware that it can develop at any time during one’s life and can have many different causes.

Joyce A. Cramer, associate research scientist in the department of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, analyzed the results of a trial that included patients with refractory partial-onset seizures who were initially randomized to levetiracetam or placebo add-on therapy for 18 weeks. Those who continued on levetiracetam for long-term treatment or crossed from placebo to levetiracetam were followed for approximately four years.

Study findings showed that at 18 weeks, patients treated with levetiracetam had significant improvements in total score and selected health-related quality of life areas such as seizure worry, overall quality of life and health status, as well as significant differences in these areas when compared with the placebo group. These early improvements were sustained long-term in the group treated immediately with levetiracetam. Patients who started on placebo for 18 weeks improved to the same level after crossing to levetiracetam treatment. Cramer said these findings demonstrate that patients achieved improvements in quality of life after starting levetiracetam.

“People with epilepsy tend to have restrictions placed on their lifestyles because of the risk of having a seizure, but the disorder also has an often overlooked significant psychosocial impact on patients, as well,” said Cramer. “To be able to treat a patient with an antiepileptic therapy and simultaneously improve their quality of life is a powerful combination that can help us control this disorder.”

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Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326