An epileptic seizure that is either repeating itself in a short period of time or prolonged is referred to as status epilepticus. It is one of the life-threatening neurological conditions, in the course of which the patient – being beyond means of first aid – also requires specialized treatment at an intensive care ward or neurological help. Its delay or negligence can cause serious systemic and neurological effects.
Definition and types
Status epilepticus is recognized if it lasts longer than 10 minutes or when at least two attacks follow one another, without the return of consciousness. Seizures longer than 5 minutes are referred to as “threatening status epilepticus.”
Status epilepticus may occur as:
- conclusive – form that carries higher risk and requires immediate treatment. Sometimes it is a sign of non-focal epilepsy or it develops as a result of widespread disorders from a specified epileptogenic area.
- non-conclusive – a type of lapse state manifested by changes in personality and visible behavior such as paranoia, hallucinations and loss of memory. It can be caused by a complex partial seizures or seizures of consciousness; it sometimes occurs in comatose patients.
Status epilepticus most commonly affects extreme age groups – young children and the elderly. Before the onset of status epilepticus, more than 50% of the patients had not observed earlier seizures that could indicate the presence of disease.
Doctors fail to detect the acute cause of the disease or the factors that trigger its occurrence in 75% of patients with status epilepticus. These include fever in the course of infection, change of antiepileptic drugs, the occurrence of a brain tumor or stroke, trauma and cerebral hypoxia.