Seizures By The Numbers

June 7, 2012 · by Minnesota Epilepsy Group · Education, Epilepsy News, Featured Topics

There are many interesting facts about seizures and epilepsy that can best be explained using numbers. Patients often want very exact information, and for many important issues, research has yielded very precise quantification. The following is a list of interesting and important numbers pertinent to those with seizures:

1-2% of the world’s population has epilepsy

9% of people will have at least one seizure in their lifetime

If you have a first seizure in your life, what is the chance you will have a second seizure in the next two years?

  • If neurological exam, EEG and MRI brain are normal: 25%
  • If  neurological exam, EEG and/or MRI are abnormal: may be > 40-50%

If you have had 2 or more seizures in your life, what is the chance that you will have more seizures?

  • 70%

Percentage of patients with epilepsy who do NOT  have an identified reason for their seizures (unknown category):

  • 50 %

If you have the first seizure in your life, what is the percent chance your seizures will be completely controlled?

  • First seizure medication: 50%
  • Second seizure medication: 10%
  • Third seizure medication and combination therapy: 3%
  • Total percentage of patients who continue to have seizures despite > 3 seizure medication trials: 30%

The typical seizure lasts 30-60 seconds.

30 minutes: This is the duration of essentially continuous seizure activity required to meet criteria for status epilepticus. Status epilepticus is prolonged seizure activity that can be severe and even life-threatening.

Approximately 50 million people have epilepsy, worldwide.

3/4 of people in developing countries do not get the treatment that they need.

Dates are numbers (of course!).  Here are some dates that are very important in the history of epilepsy:

  • 11th century BC: Approximate date that the oldest known medical reference to epilepsy was written. It was written on two clay tablets found separately in Turkey and Iraq. The translation provides a clear description of seizure activity.
  • 400 BC: Date Hippocrates wrote The Sacred Disease. This medical text was the first to describe seizures as coming from the brain. It should be noted that there is some controversy as to whether or not Hippocrates was the author of this important text
  • 1857: Potassium bromide is introduced to treat seizures. This is the first scientifically validated seizure medication
  • 1886: Modern era of epilepsy surgery begins: Sir Victor Horsley successfully performs brain surgery on a patient with focal seizures due to a depressed skull fracture.
  • 1929: First EEG was used to record human brain waves.


Seizures By The Numbers - Infographic

Seizures By The Numbers Infographic on

2 Responses to “Seizures By The Numbers”

  1. Love the info-graphic on Facebook with this information – what a great way to display statistics of this type – and the design is visually pleasing while keeping the data organized and easy to read. If you haven’t already, you should print it out and put in your waiting room. 🙂 The outline format you use for your regular articles is perfect, but would love to see more of the info-graphics in the future as well!

  2. I strongly agree with every comment you made! Brian Owens created the design.Really outstanding work! Thank you for your comment on making a poster for the waiting room. I definitely think that is something for us to pursue. We have other possibilities–for example, perhaps epilepsy foundations would be interested in utilizing this nice design.I also want to comment on the importance of visual aides. I agree- they can be so helpful. I know in my own reading, visual aides can be so helpful- table, graphs, other graphics. Sometimes written paragraphs with lots of meat are important, but that is not always the best. We will strive to present education in lots of different formats. Stating the obvious, we want to provide informative, interesting and user friendly education. Part of the interesting material will be the visual aides. So, long response from me! Part of my goal in writing this response is to organize our plans for the future. Thanks for helping us improve!

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