'Refractory epilepsy': What lies beneath?

Syedah Saira Bokhari, Satwat Hashmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A 30-year-old woman presented to the emergency room with recurrent seizures for 5 days. She had been diagnosed with epilepsy 2 years previously but stopped treatment due to the side effects of her medications. She was now experiencing episodes every 15-30 min. While undergoing a brain MRI to investigate for structural central nervous system pathology, she experienced another episode, preceded by prodromal symptoms. Polymorphic ventricular tachycardia was noted during the event. Further investigation revealed a normal QT interval, normal electrolyte panel, normal coronaries and severe left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Cardiac MRI revealed non-ischaemic cardiomyopathy. The patient was managed with heart failure and antiarrhythmic medications and an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. She remained symptom free at 6-month follow-up. This case highlights the importance of differentiating between cardiogenic syncope and epilepsy and reiterates the importance of re-evaluating a diagnosis of epilepsy when presentation is atypical or symptoms are refractory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number468
JournalBMJ Case Reports
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2016


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