Influence of an Evacuation in February 1995 in The Netherlands on the Seizure Frequency in Patients with Epilepsy: A Controlled Study


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. W. A. M. Swinkels at Instituut voor Epilepsiebestrijding, Postbox 21, 2100 AA Heemstede, The Netherlands.


Summary: Purpose: Stress is often noted by patients to be a precipitating factor in causing seizures. No precise data are, however, available. In 1995 for 250,000 inhabitants in the Netherlands, a serious life event occurred within a period of seven days. An extreme high water level in the province of Gelderland, with the possibility of a flood, made the government decide to evacuate people and their livestock. This retrospective study investigated the influence of this forced evacuation on the seizure frequency of patients with epilepsy, compared with patients of the same age and type of epilepsy living outside the evacuation area at the time of the threatening flood.

Methods: Information regarding epilepsy syndrome, seizure type, and frequency was derived from seizure diaries and medical histories of 30 evacuated patients and 30 matched control patients.

Results: Of the 30 evacuees, eight showed an increase and one a decrease in seizure frequency during or shortly after the evacuation period, compared with one and zero control patients, respectively. These results proved to be statistically significant (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Our data support the hypothesis that there is a relation, albeit small, between a stressful life event and seizure frequency.