A new study has more closely examined the link between epilepsy and aging. Unfortunately epilepsy is growing quickly among the elderly population; a population which already faces many health concerns. Four studies have recently concluded to share the exploration of the effects of epilepsy on brain function.

Basically, the studies showed that, using MRI scans, it is possible to detect an older brain age among epilepsy patients than of healthy patients.

“The absence of similar changes in patients with new-onset epilepsy suggests that ongoing seizures may underlie the brain aging phenomenon observed in this study. This technique could potentially be used to identify individuals with intractable epilepsy early in the course of their disease, and may also be useful for other applications like measuring the protective effect of antiepileptic medication,” explains New York University Langone Medical Center assistant professor of neurology Heath Pardoe, Ph.D.

In addition, study author Matti Sillanpää, M.D., Ph.D., comments, “Despite having excellent seizure outcomes, the subjects proved to have abnormal neurologic signs, including markers of cerebrovascular disease.” The University of Turku professor and senior research scientist continues, “This is an excellent opportunity to show, in further follow-up investigations, whether or not the markers of cerebrovascular diseases predict future stroke and cognitive impairment.”

Finally, Dalhousie University professor in the division of neurology, departments of pharmacology and psychology and neuroscience, Bernd Pohlmann-Eden, MD, PhD, comments, “We had postulated that ‘epilepsy in the elderly’ was conceptually irrelevant and would need to be replaced by a cause-driven sophisticated classification system in the aging brain. However, our small group data comparison trial confirms that our understanding in which way individually documented MRI findings in the aging brain predispose to seizure recurrence is currently entirely speculative.”

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