Epilepsy in Pakistan: A Population-Based Epidemiologic Study


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Professor H. Aziz at Department of Neurology, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi, Pakistan.


Summary: A house-to-house, cross-sectional, population study of epilepsy on 24,130 individuals of all ages from southern Pakistan indicates an age-specific prevalence rate of 9·99 in 1,000 (14·8 in 1,000 in rural and 7·4 in 1,000 in urban areas) for recurrent, non febrile “active” epilepsy in Pakistan. Mean onset of epilepsy was 13·3 years, and 74·3% epileptic persons were aged <19 years at onset of the disorder. The most common seizure type was ton-icclonic in 77% [primary generalized tonic-clonic (GTC) in 59% and secondarily generalized in 18%], simple partial (SPS) in 5%, complex partial (CPS) in 6%, generalized absence in l%, tonic in 3%, and myoclonic in 3% cases. Multiple seizure types in the same person were evident in 9·6% of only the generalized group. A putative cause could be suggested in 38·4% of cases: 32% had a positive family history of epilepsy, most common among siblings. Common perceived precipitants included fever in 29·2% and emotional disturbances in 16·6%. Only 3% of epileptic persons believed that their illness was due to supernatural causes. Treatment status was very poor, with only 2% rural and 27% urban epileptic persons receiving antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) at the time of the survey. We discuss the logistic and management problems of population-based epidemiologic studies in developing countries.