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Management of epilepsy in the elderly

Authors Poza-Aldea JJ

Published 15 January 2008 Volume 2007:3(6) Pages 723—728


Juan José Poza

Department of Neurology, Hospital Donostia, San Sebastián, Spain

Abstract: Epilepsy among the elderly is a frequently occurring pathology, differing in etiology, clinical presentation and prognosis from those of young people. In addition, beyond a certain age, physiological modifications are produced in the metabolism which alter the pharmacokinetics of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), increasing the risk of pharmacological interactions, already greater in these patients due to the frequency of poly-pharmacy. Furthermore, elderly patients are particularly sensitive to certain secondary effects of AEDs, as for example, cognitive disturbances, osteoporosis or weight increase. Given that the efficacy of the major AEDs is a priori quite similar, and that the epilepsies occurring in this age-group generally have a good prognosis, the selection of an AED will depend more upon its pharmacokinetics and ability to induce certain secondary effects than on its efficacy. In this respect, levetiracetam and pregabalin, followed by oxcarbazepine and lamotrigine have the most favorable pharmocokinetical profile. Moreover, on the whole these drugs have very few cognitive effects, do not induce osteoporosis and, with the exception of pregabalin, do not affect weight, making them the first selection for use in the treatment of epilepsy in the elderly.

Keywords: epilepsy, the elderly, antiepileptic drugs

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