Epilepsy and risks

There are risks associated with the condition, so having key, up-to-date information is important to help manage them.

Epilepsy, like other long-term conditions such as Asthma or Diabetes comes with certain risks. If left unchecked these can become very serious; so knowing about them, and  understanding how to reduce them where you can, is important. 

Finding out more information about  epilepsy, the risks (such as SUDEP),  managing and talking about it, help to balance risk and help a person to live well with epilepsy.

Unfortunately, a number of people with epilepsy do die each year

There are over 1,000 epilepsy- related deaths each year in the UK alone – but this figure is likely to be underestimated. Approximately 50% of these deaths are due to, accidents, drowning, Status Epilepticus or suicide.

The other half are due to Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP).

But what is SUDEP?

SUDEP is when a person with epilepsy dies suddenly and prematurely and no other reason for death is found.

SUDEP deaths are often unwitnessed with many of the deaths occurring overnight. There may be obvious signs a seizure has happened, though this isn’t always the case.


The cause of SUDEP is not yet known. Researchers are investigating a range of possibilities such as the effect of seizures on breathing and the heart.

Having active seizures puts you at risk of injury and death, and there are certain types of seizure which research has shown increase a person’s risk of SUDEP.

But researchers have identified key risk factors. that can increase risk of SUDEP – and in some cases, there are positive things that can be done to reduce risks. Our Downloads and Get Involved pages have tips on reducing risks


More information about SUDEP and epilepsy risks can be found here.

Take a look at our infographic for key facts and actions you can take to reduce risk: