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2021

CURE Epilepsy Award

Cardiac and Autonomic Pathological Markers for Arrhythmias and Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy Patients

David Auerbach, PhD
SUNY Upstate Medical University
 

People with epilepsy are at a high risk of sudden death (e.g., SUDEP). Current SUDEP risk factors are not linked to the proposed biological causes for SUDEP. There is a higher prevalence of cardiac electrical abnormalities in people with epilepsy, and arrhythmias or irregular heart rhythms are reported to precede cases that almost result in SUDEP.

Dr. Auerbach’s team will use analytical tools that are well accepted in the cardiac field, but new to the epilepsy and SUDEP field, to identify epilepsy patient populations at risk of cardiac arrhythmias. Additionally, his team will test whether these tools identify people with epilepsy who later died of SUDEP. The team’s long-term goal is to develop a comprehensive SUDEP risk assessment tool based on markers for each of the proposed biological causes of SUDEP, including cardiac arrhythmias.