Could acid reflux explain sudden unexpected death in epilepsy?

Sudden unexpected deaths in epilepsy have stumped researchers for decades. According to a new study, seemingly harmless acid reflux might offer some clues.

Larynx anatomy

A new study investigates how the larynx (pictured) may be involved in SUDEP.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 3.4 million people in the United States have epilepsy.

For around 30 percent of these individuals, medication does not adequately control seizures.

Uncontrolled epilepsy is the primary risk factor for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).

SUDEP affects an estimated 1 in 1,000 adults with epilepsy each year.

Scientists still do not know the exact causes of SUDEP, but they believe that respiratory and cardiac dysfunction play an essential role.

However, more recently, scientists have implicated laryngospasm, which is a sudden spasm of the vocal cords.

Earlier studies in mice have shown that this type of spasm can restrict airflow, cause cardiac dysfunction, and death.
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