Premature mortality in active convulsive epilepsy in rural Kenya: Causes and associated factors

Anthony K. Ngugi, Christian Bottomley, Gregory Fegan, Eddie Chengo, Rachael Odhiambo, Evasius Bauni, Brian Neville, Immo Kleinschmidt, Josemir W. Sander, Charles R. Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: We estimated premature mortality and identified causes of death and associated factors in people with active convulsive epilepsy (ACE) in rural Kenya. Methods: In this prospective population-based study, people with ACE were identified in a crosssectional survey and followed up regularly for 3 years, during which information on deaths and associated factors was collected. We used a validated verbal autopsy tool to establish putative causes of death. Age-specific rate ratios and standardized mortality ratios were estimated. Poisson regression was used to identify mortality risk factors. Results: There were 61 deaths among 754 people with ACE, yielding a rate of 33.3/1,000 persons/year. Overall standardized mortality ratio was 6.5. Mortality was higher across all ACE age groups. Nonadherence to antiepileptic drugs (adjusted rate ratio [aRR] 3.37), cognitive impairment (aRR 4.55), and age (501 years) (rate ratio 4.56) were risk factors for premature mortality. Most deaths (56%) were directly related to epilepsy, with prolonged seizures/possible status epilepticus (38%) most frequently associated with death; some of these may have been due to sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Possible SUDEP was the likely cause in another 7%. Conclusion: Mortality in people with ACE was more than 6-fold greater than expected. This may be reduced by improving treatment adherence and prompt management of prolonged seizures and supporting those with cognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-589
Number of pages8
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2014


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