Vol 28, No 2 (2021)
Review Article
Published online: 2019-09-26

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Epilepsy and hypertension: The possible link for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy?

Patrycja J. Szczurkowska1, Katarzyna Polonis2, Christiane Becari3, Michał Hoffmann1, Krzysztof Narkiewicz1, Marzena Chrostowska1
Pubmed: 31565791
Cardiol J 2021;28(2):330-335.


Epilepsy affects about 50 million people worldwide. Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the main cause of death in epilepsy accounting for up to 17% of all deaths in epileptic patients, and therefore remains a major public health problem. SUDEP likely arises from a combination and interaction of multiple risk factors (such as being male, drug resistance, frequent generalized tonic-clonic seizures) making risk prediction and mitigation challenging. While there is a general understanding of the physiopathology of SUDEP, mechanistic hypotheses linking risk factors with a risk of SUDEP are still lacking. Identifying cross-talk between biological systems implicated in SUDEP may facilitate the development of improved models for SUDEP risk assessment, treatment and clinical management. In this review, the aim was to explore an overlap between the pathophysiology of hypertension, cardiovascular disease and epilepsy, and discuss its implication for SUDEP. Presented herein, evidence in literature in support of a cross-talk between the renin–angiotensin system (RAS) and sympathetic nervous system, both known to be involved in the development of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, and as one of the underlying mechanisms of SUDEP. This article also provides a brief description of local RAS in brain neuroinflammation and the role of centrally acting RAS inhibitors in epileptic seizure alleviation.

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