Analysis of mortality data based on underlying cause of death in epileptic patients is of limited value in view of the low case-fatality ratio of epilepsy. Recently the National Center for Health Statistics has made available all conditions mentioned on each death certificate for the entire US population. Using a case-control study design, we have analyzed all the associated conditions at the time of death in patients with epilepsy for the year 1978. Association between epilepsy and the following conditions reached statistical significance: mental retardation, cerebral palsy, cerebrovascular disease, myocardial ischemia, dementia, foreign body in pharynx and larynx, pneumonia, alcoholism and cirrhosis of liver. Early recognition and proper management of some of these factors could significantly reduce the mortality and morbidity in epileptic patients.

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