Hypertension may double an adult’s risk of developing epilepsy, according to a new study published in Epilepsia.
In the study of 2,986 U.S. adults with an average age of 58 years, 55 new cases of epilepsy were identified during an average follow-up of 19 years. Hypertension, defined as presence of elevated blood pressure or use of antihypertensive medications, was linked to a nearly 2-fold higher risk of epilepsy. After excluding participants with normal blood pressure on antihypertensive medications, hypertension was linked to a 2.44-times higher risk of epilepsy.
“Our study shows that hypertension, a common, modifiable, vascular risk factor, is an independent predictor of epilepsy in older age,” said co–lead author Maria Stefanidou, MD, MSc, of Boston University School of Medicine. “Even though epidemiological studies can only show association and not causation, this observation may help identify subgroups of patients who will benefit from targeted, aggressive hypertension management and encourage performance of dedicated clinical studies that will focus on early interventions to reduce the burden of epilepsy in older age.”