Summary: Purpose: Studies evaluating short-term mortality among people who experience status epilepticus (SE) have produced conflicting results. Most studies are derived from clinical series with results affected by unspecified follow-up period and select referral of cases. This study was planned to evaluate short-term mortality after a first episode of SE.
Methods: We performed a population-based retrospective cohort study to determine the short-term mortality following a first episode of SE. Between January 1,1965 and December 31, 1984, we studied all first episodes of a febrile SE who received medical attention in Rochester, Minnesota. Cases were followed until death or end of the study (February 1996).
Results: Mortality within the first 30 days was 19% (38 deaths out of 201 incident SE). Thirty-four deaths (89%) occurred among those with non febrile acute symptomatic SE, while 4 deaths (11%) occurred among those with unprovoked SE. Within the acute symptomatic group, after adjusting for age, there was a decreased risk of death in women (RR = 0.4; 95% CI: 0.2–0.9). No effect of duration or seizure type was shown after adjusting for other risk factors.
Conclusions: One out of 5 subjects with SE died within the first 30 days. Short-term mortality is associated with the presence of an underlying acute etiology. Among acute symptomatic cases, women had a decreased risk of dying.