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Patients with both schizophrenia and epilepsy die alarmingly early

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Posted May 17, 2019

More than one in four patients with schizophrenia and epilepsy die before reaching the age of fifty. This is shown by research from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital. The results, which have been published in the journal Epilepsia, aim to contribute to ensuring patients will receive the correct treatment in time.

Epilepsy. Image credit: geralt via Pixabay

Epilepsy. Image credit: geralt | Free image via Pixabay, Pixabay licence

Patients who suffer from schizophrenia and epilepsy are particularly vulnerable. In the study, the researchers followed more than 1,5 mil. people and classified them according to whether they were diagnosed with epilepsy, schizophrenia or the combination of epilepsy and schizophrenia on their twenty-fifth birthday.

“There was an exceedingly high mortality rate among people with these disorders, particularly those who suffer from the combination of epilepsy and schizophrenia. More than 25 per cent of them die between the ages of 25-50,” says Jakob Christensen, who is one of the researchers behind the study.

He is clinical associate professor and DMSc at the Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University and consultant at the Department of Neurology at Aarhus University Hospital. He is also a member of  the national psychiatric project iPSYCH and the epilepsy project EpiPsych which carries out research into the correlation between epilepsy and mental disorders.

Patients fall between two chairs

The researchers hope to see the results raise awareness about the difficulties of living with epilepsy and schizophrenia.

“The results are really intended to help healthcare professionals develop new working processes so that this group of patients can get the right treatment. We already know from previous studies, that this group of patients die from a wide range of lifestyle diseases, and that some of these are preventable,” says Jakob Christensen and continues:

“With the way things are now, this patient group can easily fall between two chairs and end up being sent back and forth between different medical specialists or between hospitals and their general practitioner. It appears that people with epilepsy and schizophrenia are particularly vulnerable – and there is certainly room for improvement in the way the healthcare system deals with them and their treatment.”

Source: Aarhus University

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