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Sheezoos !. As quoted to me by a nice lady describing the affliction suffered by her husband. Anticonvulsants. Epilepsy The second most common neurologic illness in North America 0.5%-1% of the US population They all live in Indianapolis

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As quoted to me by a nice lady describing the affliction suffered by her husband



  • Epilepsy

    • The second most common neurologic illness in North America

    • 0.5%-1% of the US population

      • They all live in Indianapolis

    • 70% have no identifiable cause (primary or idiopathic)

    • 30% have underlying cause (secondary epilepsy)

So what causes seizures

So what causes seizures?

Infectious diseases


Metabolic disorders

Vascular diseases

Pediatric disorders

Neoplastic disease



High doses of local anesthetics


Drug abuse

Withdrawal syndromes from ETOH or sedative-hypnotic drugs

Seizures of unknown etiology

Seizures of unknown etiology

  • Lower tolerance to environmental triggers:

    • Sleep deprivation

    • Flickering lights

    • Fluid and electrolyte imbalances

  • In neonates, infants, children

    • Congenital abnormalities of CNS

    • Perinatal brain injury

    • Metabolic imbalances

    • In later childhood: CNS infections, neurological degenerative disorders

  • Adult etiology

    • Cerebral trauma or neoplasm

    • CVA

Types of seizures

Types of Seizures

  • Partial seizures

    • Simple partial

    • Complex partial

  • Generalized seizures

    • Absence

    • atonic

    • Tonic-clonic (grand mal)

  • Special seizures

    • Febrile

    • Myoclonic

  • Status epilepticus

Partial seizures

Partial Seizures

  • Simple partial

    • Limited portion of the brain

      • Abnormal focus or foci

    • Patients experience

      • Felling that they are not really present wherever they are

      • Hallucinations with all senses

      • Extreme emotions

      • Twitching of arms, legs, or face

  • Complex partial

    • Altered LOC

    • Involve sensory, motor, and autonomic symptoms

    • Aura commonly precedes

    • No memory of seizure

Generalized seizures

Generalized Seizures

  • Travel throughout the brain

  • Include the following:

    • Absence Seizures

      • Common in children

      • Subtle symptoms:

        • Staring

        • transient LOC

        • eyelid fluttering

        • myoclonic jerks

    • Atonic seizures

      • Last only a few seconds

      • characterized by stumbling or falling

Generalized seizures cont

Generalized Seizures (cont)

  • Tonic Clonic-most common

    • Usually preceded by aura

    • Tonic phase

      • Intense muscle contractions

      • Hoarse cry at onset

      • Loss of bowel or bladder control

      • Shallow breathing

    • Clonic phase

      • Alternating contraction and relaxation of muscles

    • Postictal state

      • Drowsiness, disorientation, deep sleep

      • Patients will differ in this part

Special seizures

Special Seizures

  • These guys usually involve the pediatric population

  • Febrile

    • Last 1-2 minutes with tonic-clonic activity

    • 3-5 year-old age group in conjunction with a rapid rise in temp

    • It’s not how high the temperature is, but how fast it rises

  • Myoclonic

    • Involve large, jerking body movements with major muscle groups contracting quickly

    • Occurs in infants, but often mistaken for a normal Moro (startle) reflex

  • Status seizures

Status seizures

Status Seizures

  • A seizure lasting longer than 3 minutes or two or more consecutive seizures without regaining consciousness

  • These are the ones we medicate in the field

  • But first:

    • Check blood glucose (it’s the easiest thing to fix)

    • O2, IV, monitor (often difficult in a flopping patient)

    • Midazolam (Versed)

      • > 50 kg, 5 mg IV, IM, IN

      • < 50 kg, 2.5 mg

      • Peds: 0.1 mg/kg (up to 2.5 mg)

Anticonvulsant therapy

Anticonvulsant Therapy

Primary goal of drug therapy is to control or prevent the recurrence of the seizure disorder

No ideal seizure med

You need to have an idea of what med works on what type of seizure to know what type of seizure history your patient has

Major anticonvulsant classifications

Major Anticonvulsant Classifications

Hydantoins & phenytoin-like drugs







Reduce the maximal activity of brainstem centers responsible for tonic-clonicseizures by desensitizing Na+ channels

Developed from a search for a drug that was less sedating than the barbs

Treatment for all types of epilepsy except absence seizure

More effective on grand mal than petit mal

Used after head trauma and brain surgery

  • Examples:

    • phentyoin (Dilantin)

    • fosphenytoin (Cerebyx)

Phenytoin like drugs

Phenytoin-like Drugs

Works like the hydantoins in desensitizing Na+ channels

  • Examples

    • carbamazepine (Tegritol)

      • Tonic-clonic and partial

    • lamotrigine (Lamictal)

    • valproic acid (Depakene, Depakote)

      • Absence seizures

The gaba potentiators

The GABA Potentiators



Other miscellaneous GABA agents

Suppresses the firing ability of neurons



  • Relatively inexpensive; efficacious, low incidence of side effects

  • Used for generalized tonic-clonic and partial seizures

  • phenobarbital

    • Most commonly prescribed barbiturate

    • Remember this is a CNS depressant, and it takes several weeks to achieve maximum effects with minimal sedation

    • Optimal blood concentration is determined by seizure control and an absence of toxic effects

      • That’s why docs will draw levels if they are on phenobarb and have a seizure (as long as they are compliant with the meds)



  • This is certainly a repeat category, isn’t it?

  • diazepam, clonazepam, lorazepam

  • A fat girl with a good personality

    • Lower incidence of acute toxicity and OD

    • More favorable side and adverse effect profiles

    • Lower abuse potential

    • Fewer potentially serious drug interactions

  • diazepam is our prototype, but midazolam is protocol

    • Although it is not recommended for seizures due to the short half-life


  • valproic acid (Depakene), valproate (Depacon), divalproex sodium (Depakote)

  • Directly or indirectly increases or enhances GABA

    • Something about reuptake of GABA by glial cells and axonal terminals

    • Dissociates to valproic acid in the stomach

  • Absence seizures and adjunctive in multiple seizure types

  • levetiracetam (Keppra)

    • Fairly new; used as adjunct therapy in all seizures except absence

    • MOA is a mystery, it works to suppress areas others don’t



We don’t see these much, so I won’t waste a slide on them. But thanks for coming.

(Okay, they suppress seizures by delaying calcium influx into neurons.)

I don’t care about these ones.

Most effective drugs with the least toxicity

Most effective drugs with the least toxicity

And our focus is as always

And our focus is, as always

  • ABCs

  • Protect the patient

  • Don’t put your fingers in the patient’s mouth (duh)

  • Obtain a thorough history

    • r/o low sugar, hypoxia, and trauma

  • Seizure patients with a known history often refuse to go to the hospital

    • Follow SOR guidelines, and advocate in the best interest of the patient

    • Many patients are not compliant with medication, mainly because they cannot drink alcohol with the meds

Medication noncompliance

Medication Noncompliance

The number 1 reason seizure patients have seizures

You can’t make them compliant, but you can warn them of the dangers of repeat seizure activity

Things to know from this lecture

Things to know from this lecture

Causes of seizures

Types of seizures

Classes of seizure meds and the corresponding medication names (both)

What types of meds work on what types of seizures

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