Mortality of Epilepsy from National Vital Statistics and University Epilepsy Clinic in Taiwan


  • The commission wishes to acknowledge the support of UCB Pharma for logistical support in the organization of this workshop.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. J.-J. Tsai at Department of Neurology, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan, Republic of China. E-mail:


Summary: Purpose: Where population-based studies of epilepsy mortality are impossible to conduct, other sources of data must be considered. We provide descriptive data on mortality and causes of death for epilepsy in Taiwan.

Methods: Two settings in Taiwan were used. First, we evaluated the mortality ratio for epilepsy, using the national vital statistics for 1996 with the total population of Taiwan as the denominator. Second, we evaluated mortality in a cohort of prevalent epilepsy cases from a University outpatient clinic. For both, proportionate mortality was calculated to determine the relative contributions of different causes of death in epilepsy.

Results: One hundred and sixty-two deaths were correctly coded under ICD code 345 from the 1975 detailed diagnostic listing during the 1-year period of 1996. Epilepsy was the diagnosis in 0.8 deaths/100,000 population. Over an 11-year period, there were 54 deaths (0.9%) among 1,224 prevalent epilepsy cases from a University clinic during 5,704 person-years of follow-up. The most common underlying cause of death was epilepsy-related death in 129 (79.6%) out of 162 deaths from the vital statistics data. There were 13 deaths unrelated to epilepsy (8.0%). Acute reactive seizure as the cause of death was found in 9 patients (5.6%). The leading cause of death in the epilepsy clinic was disease unrelated to epilepsy in 21 deaths (38.9%), epilepsy-related death in 12 patients (22.2%), and death related to the cause of epilepsy in 9 patients (16.7%).

Conclusion: Data derived from vital statistics are inadequate to evaluate mortality in people with epilepsy.