Association of first anti-seizure medication choice with injuries in older adults with newly diagnosed epilepsy

Leah J. Blank, Parul Agarwal, Churl Su Kwon, Nathalie Jetté

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Epilepsy incidence increases exponentially in older adults, who are also at higher risk of adverse drug effects. Anti-seizure medications (ASM) may be associated with sedation and injuries, but discontinuation can result in seizures. We sought to determine whether there was an association between prescribing non-guideline concordant ASM and subsequent injury as this could inform care models. Methods: Retrospective cohort study of adults 50 years or older with newly-diagnosed epilepsy in 2015–16, sampled from the MarketScan Databases. The outcome of interest was injury within 1-year of ASM prescription (e.g., burns, falls) and the exposure of interest was ASM category (recommended vs. not recommended by clinical guidelines). Descriptive statistics characterized covariates and a multivariable Cox-regression model was built to examine the association between ASM category and subsequent injury. Results: 5,931 people with newly diagnosed epilepsy were prescribed an ASM within 1-year. The three most common ASMs were: levetiracetam (62.86%), gabapentin (11.73%), and phenytoin (4.45%). Multivariable Cox-regression found that medication category was not associated with injury; however, older age (adjusted hazard ratio (AHR) 1.01/year), history of prior injury (AHR 1.77), traumatic brain injury (AHR 1.55) and ASM polypharmacy (AHR 1.32) were associated with increased hazard of injury. Conclusions: Most older adults appear to be getting appropriate first prescriptions for epilepsy. However, a substantial proportion still receives medication that guidelines suggest avoiding. In addition, we show that ASM polypharmacy is associated with an increased hazard of injury within 1- year. Efforts to improve prescribing in older adults with epilepsy should consider how to reduce. both polypharmacy and exposure to medications that guidelines recommend avoiding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-25
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Falls
  • Injury
  • Older adults
  • Polypharmacy
  • Seizure


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