A morsel of health news says that there is a high risk of fractures, falls, and osteoporosis among epilepsy patients using antiepileptic drugs. And most patients are unaware of the risks associated with taking the drugs. For that reason, we discuss it here, because staying knowledgeable is the best defense against injury or ill health.
The study, published in the prestigious “Neurology” journal, found that people taking antiepileptic drugs are up to four times more likely to suffer spine, collarbone and ankle fractures. The study also revealed that these patients are more than four times more likely than non-users of antiepileptic drugs to have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
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Falls are dangerous events for people with fragile bones. Well, women taking epilepsy drugs experienced nearly double the rate of falls than women who were not taking the medicine. The new research may provide a critical understanding of this higher risk for fractures and falls in epilepsy patients. However, as it turns out, this information is not getting to those at risk.
More than 70% of epilepsy patients in the study were unaware of the increased risk of fractures, decreased bone mineral density, and falls associated with their medication. This means that awareness of these issues is poor, despite the study being done in specialty epilepsy clinics. The study found that most patients wanted to be better informed about these issues…who wouldn’t want that?
The study compared 150 people on epilepsy medications (for a minimum of three months) and 506 not on these medications.
Now, people with epilepsy already face an increased risk of fracture. Many things influence this risk, including seizures, impaired balance, and reduced bone mineral density. Though this risk of fractures is not new, few quality studies have been able to determine the effect of seizures on reported fractures. The risk of falls among persons with epilepsy has been the subject of very limited study.
Some quick tips on preventing a fall:
— Speak to your doctor about what risk you are facing, to put it into context
— Exercise regularly to improve strength and balance
— Wear sensible shoes that will support you well
— Clear your home environment of hazards that might trip you accidentally
— Keep your home well-lit
— Install helpful devices, like banisters on stairways and grab bars in the shower