HealthDay News — Hypertension is associated with an increased risk for developing epilepsy, according to a study published online Nov. 17 in Epilepsia.

Maria Stefanidou, M.D., from the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the role of modifiable vascular risk factors for predicting subsequent epilepsy among individuals aged 45 years or older in the Framingham Heart Study. Data were included for 2,986 participants who had available vascular risk factor data and epilepsy follow-up.

The researchers identified 55 incident epilepsy cases during a mean follow-up of 19 years. The risk for developing epilepsy was increased almost twofold in association with hypertension after adjustment for prevalent and interim stroke (hazard ratio, 1.93). After excluding patients with normal blood pressure who were receiving antihypertensive treatment, the association was further increased (hazard ratio, 2.44).

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“Our study shows that hypertension, a common, modifiable, vascular risk factor, is an independent predictor of epilepsy in older age,” Stefanidou said in a statement. “Even though epidemiological studies can only show association and not causation, this observation may help identify subgroups of patients who will benefit from targeted, aggressive hypertension management and encourage performance of dedicated clinical studies that will focus on early interventions to reduce the burden of epilepsy in older age.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

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