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Can A Person Die From A Seizure?

The incidents of death from seizures are relatively less. Nevertheless, it is a lesser known fact that if a patient is not brought in a safer place at the time of seizure, the injuries so caused can be quite fatal. Apart from this, a condition of status epilepticus, which is rare, can be fatal if immediate treatment is not provided. In a broader sense, most of the seizures are known to subside by themselves and are not fatal.

Can A Person Die From A Seizure?

Can A Person Die From A Seizure?

When are the risks of death high from a seizure? – Any form of seizure lasting more than 5 minutes is considered to be a case of emergency.

  • If more than one episode of seizure occurs within a very short period of time overlapping with the recovery time, it can lead to a medical emergency.
  • The risk of death also increases from the problems that may occur during or after a seizure. This may include of vomit or saliva. One way to prevent this problem is to turn the patient to one side as soon as the patient has an attack of seizure. This position prevents any form of fluid from going back into the lungs by draining it out of the mouth.
  • The patients who are diagnosed with epilepsy have a risk of drowning even in a tub of water at the time of seizure. Thus, patients who have seizures should use showers instead of bathtubs.
  • Driving at the time of seizure may be fatal.
  • Patients have a seizure attack in railways or subways should be careful. Caregivers should accompany them to every place to reduce the risk of fatal dangers.

Thus, it can be seen, that fatal danger can be avoided with proper care and planning. It should be known that death due to seizure is relatively rare. However, the patient should be provided with ample care and security to avoid accidents.

What Are The Other Types Of Injuries That Can Occur Due To An Episode Of Seizure?

It is a known fact that in a typical grand mal seizure, a patient loses his consciousness. If the person is not brought to a safe place at the time of an episode of seizure, he may have-

  • Serious falls.
  • Bruises, cuts and burns.
  • The person may have broken bones or head injury which may need medical attention.
  • Concussions or breathing problems.

What is SUDEP?

SUDEP is an acronym of Sudden and Unexpected Death in epilepsy. It is a fatal complication in epilepsy. This is thought to happen when a patient diagnosed with epilepsy, who is in his usual state of health dies unexpectedly. Such unexpected death is not related to any form of accident. It happens so that no relatable cause can be found even in an autopsy. It must be known that although the condition SUDEP is not quite frequent, it is a very real problem.

  • According to the statistics, SUDEP is as rare as occurring to 1 patient out of 1000 with epilepsy.
  • Research shows that incidents of SUDEP occur to patients having poorly controlled epilepsy.
  • It has been seen that SUDEP rarely occurs in case of children.
  • It has been often found that patients dying due to SUDEP do not seem to have any form of convulsive seizure. The patients are usually found dead in bed.

The recent researches have not really found out the cause of death in SUDEP. However, sometimes it is assumed that a seizure may cause irregular heartbeat and other problems in the brain that may lead to sudden death.


  1. Devinsky O, Hesdorffer DC, Thurman DJ, Lhatoo S, Richerson G. Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy: epidemiology, mechanisms, and prevention. Lancet Neurol. 2016;15(10):1075-1088. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(16)30158-2
  2. Sveinsson O, Andersson T, Mattsson P. Injuries and other adverse events in individuals with epilepsy—a population-based case–control study. Epilepsia. 2013;54(2):242-249. doi:10.1111/epi.12048
  3. Kellinghaus C, Dziewas R, Lücking CH, Ritter M, Ringelstein EB. Submersion and drowning in patients with epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2005;46(11):1783-1787. doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2005.00306.x
  4. Harden C, Tomson T, Gloss D, et al. Practice guideline summary: Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy incidence rates and risk factors: Report of the Guideline Development, Dissemination, and Implementation Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Epilepsy Society. Neurology. 2017;88(17):1674-1680. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000003685
  5. Lhatoo SD, Nei M, Raghavan M, et al. Nonseizure SUDEP: sudden unexpected death in epilepsy without preceding epileptic seizures. Epilepsia. 2016;57(7):1161-1168. doi:10.1111/epi.13402

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 7, 2023

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