Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the direct and indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on adults with epilepsy in Glasgow. Methods: We used routinely collected data for a previously identified cohort of patients with epilepsy to evaluate access to scheduled and unscheduled care with quarterly rates of inpatient admissions, outpatient attendance and accident & emergency attendance calculated. Anti-seizure medication prescribing and persistence, incidence of anxiety and depression and deaths for a cohort of patients with epilepsy was evaluated prior to the pandemic in comparison to during the pandemic, from 2015 to 2021. Results: All-cause mortality and epilepsy related mortality showed a statistically significant reduction during the pandemic. Although overall rates of out-patient hospital attendance dropped during the early stages of the pandemic (and had not returned to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021) epilepsy-related services saw a maintenance of patient contact as a result of a rapid adoption of telephone clinics. A significant decrease in overall mortality was observed in PWE during the pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic period. COVID-19 was the single commonest cause of death in PWE during the pandemic (61/453) and 160 patients (3.7%) had at least 1 admission to hospital for COVID-19. Anti-seizure medication (ASM) prescribing remained rates remained stable during the pandemic. During the pandemic an average of 38.8% of cohort patients were treated for depression and 16.3% for anxiety per quarter, 8.2% and 12.4% of whom had not been previously treated for these conditions respectively. Conclusion: We have shown that during a national lockdown, in the context of a pandemic, mortality in patients with epilepsy has reduced, while out-patient services were delivered remotely, primarily via the telephone. The reasons for this remain unclear but suggest that some of the excess mortality in people with epilepsy may be potentially avoidable by changes in lifestyle.

Cite as

Marshall, A., Leach, J., Mackay, D. & Heath, C. 2023, 'The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a cohort of adults with epilepsy', Seizure. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seizure.2023.09.002

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Last updated: 28 October 2023
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