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Epilepsy Hospitalizations Rise After 8-Year Decline

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: January 30, 2008

Epilepsy-related hospitalizations, which fell from 176,000 in 1993 to 95,000 in 2000, climbed to 136,000 in 2005, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The recent 5-year climb represented a 43 percent increase. Epilepsy, a condition characterized by recurrent seizures that may include repetitive muscle jerking called convulsions, affects 1 to 2 percent of the U.S. population.

AHRQ's analysis also showed:

  • Nearly two-thirds of the patients hospitalized with epilepsy between 2000 and 2005 were younger than 45.
  • Between 1993 and 2005, convulsion-related hospitalizations increased 69 percent from 730,000 to 1.2 million. Patients 65 and older were more than twice as likely as younger people to be hospitalized with convulsions.
  • Although epilepsy can cause convulsions, the vast majority of these convulsion cases were not epilepsy related but were rather caused by fever, stroke, infection, uremia—blood poisoning caused by kidney failure—high or low blood sugar, low blood sodium levels, and substance abuse and withdrawal.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Hospitalizations for Epilepsy and Convulsions, 2005. The report uses statistics from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of January 2008


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