30 Astonishing Epilepsy Statistics & Facts for 2021

Epilepsy Statistics

Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder. It is defined by abnormal brain activity, causing seizures, unusual behaviors, and even loss of consciousness. Believe it or not, it is a common neurological disorder that affects millions of people. What’s more, epilepsy statistics show that it is one of the fastest-growing conditions globally. Astoundingly, despite its high prevalence, it isn’t entirely understood by medical experts. That said, you are in the right place if you want to extend your knowledge with the help of the latest statistics.

Top 10 Epilepsy Statistics for 2021

  • A seizure can last up to 30 minutes or longer before risking permanent brain damage.
  • Up to 75% of people with active epilepsy don’t receive treatment.
  • About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy.
  • Every year, nearly 5 million people worldwide are diagnosed with epilepsy.
  • 32% of people with epilepsy can’t work, as epilepsy statistics in the United States uncover.
  • 3 million adults in the United States have epilepsy.
  • 56% of people with epilepsy experienced seizures despite taking seizure medicine.
  • 70% of people with epilepsy could live seizure-free if diagnosed and treated properly.
  • Pediatric epilepsy’s causes are unknown in 60%–70% of cases.
  • 25% of Americans feel nervous around a person with epilepsy since they may have a seizure.

Essential Epilepsy Statistics and Facts

Have you ever wondered what has to happen for an epilepsy diagnosis to be established? Does having epilepsy mean that permanent brain damage is unavoidable? We have the answers for you. The following epilepsy stats and facts will give you insight into this neurological disorder.

1. Generalized seizures account for over 30% of all seizures.

(Healthline)

Generalized seizures usually develop from focal seizures. The subcategories include tonic, clonic, tonic-clonic, myoclonic, and atonic seizures. It is important to note that generalized types of seizures can bring about falls, severe muscle contractions, and loss of consciousness, seizure facts reveal.

2. 70% of epilepsy cases can be prevented if diagnosed and treated properly.

(WHO)

That is why preventive health programs are of utmost importance. Epilepsy statistics also reveal that most causes of death related to epilepsy are highly preventable. The causes here include drowning, burns, prolonged seizures, and falls.

3. For an epilepsy diagnosis, at least two seizures must occur more than 24 hours apart.

(Aesnet)

Believe it or not, for people who have active epilepsy, there’s a very high chance of experiencing at least two seizures with a 24-hour gap between occurrences. That said, healthcare providers can help you control the condition by studying the symptoms and providing adequate neurological treatment.

4. In the US, 1 in 26 people will have epilepsy in their lifetime.

(Epilepsy Foundation) (Sand Lake Imaging)

Epilepsy statistics for 2020 reveal that 1 in 26 people in the US will develop epilepsy at some point. As we’ve mentioned before, one in ten people will have a seizure in their lives. Furthermore, a third of the 150,000 cases diagnosed every year happen in childhood.

5. According to the World Health Organization, only 25% of epilepsy cases are preventable.

(WHO)

Of course, epilepsy is a serious disorder, but it doesn’t mean the disease can’t be controlled or prevented. In fact, stats on epilepsy imply that 25% of epilepsy cases are preventable. Following that, learning the most effective preventive measures could reduce one’s risk of developing the disorder.

6. A seizure can last up to 30 minutes or longer before risking permanent brain damage.

(Epilepsy)

When a seizure lasts for too long, it’s referred to as status epilepticus (or just status). It can happen with any type of seizure. One of the types of status is convulsive (tonic-clonic) status epilepticus. To put it briefly, it is when a tonic-clonic seizure lasts for five or more minutes. If convulsive status epilepticus lasts for 30 minutes or longer, it can lead to long-term brain damage, as epilepsy awareness facts affirm. On top of that, it can even cause death.

7. Up to 75% of people with active epilepsy don’t receive treatment.

(WHO)

According to the World Health Organization, 75% of people with active epilepsy don’t get treatment. Based on epilepsy facts, the reasons for it are poverty, lack of trained staff, low prioritization for the treatment of epilepsy, societal misconceptions, and poor access to anti-epileptic medicine.

8. 56% of people with epilepsy experienced seizures despite taking seizure medicine.

(Epilepsy Foundation)

Seizures are common epilepsy symptoms, and receiving treatment for them is of the essence. Nevertheless, some people who undergo treatment still experience seizures. According to the epilepsy facts and statistics, 44% of those who have epilepsy and take medication reported no seizures in the past year.

Epilepsy Statistics Worldwide

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders in the world. However, it is more dominant in some countries than the others. Please keep reading to find out more about this. In the forthcoming section, you will also learn how many people are diagnosed with this condition annually and how it affects one’s ability to work.

9. About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy.

(WHO)

Epilepsy statistics suggest that an estimated 50 million people worldwide have the condition, making it one of the world’s most prevalent neurological diseases. Following that, most (if not all) governments will face an increasing demand for support services, treatment, and rehabilitation to accommodate the population with neurological disorders.

10. The prevalence of epilepsy is very high in Latin America and Africa.

(NCBI) (Medical News Today)

According to stats, regions of Latin America and some African countries, like Nigeria, Liberia, and the United Republic of Tanzania, have high epilepsy prevalence.

Thankfully, medical experts have been providing means of treatment across the world. What’s more, the public has taken great leaps in managing the disorder. Namely, using CBD oils has been shown to be effective for seizures. That said, make sure to consult your health provider before going for any treatment.

11. Epilepsy accounts for 0.5% of the global burden of disease, epilepsy facts from 2019 show.

(WHO)

Now, let’s look into the economic and social impacts of the disorder. There are considerable financial implications that manifest themselves in the loss of productivity, increased health needs, and premature death. As for social implications, discrimination and stigma surrounding the disorder discourage people with epilepsy from seeking a much-needed treatment.

12. Facts about epilepsy suggest that every year, 5 million people worldwide are diagnosed with it.

(WHO)

As for the diagnosis, in high-income countries, the number of those diagnosed is 49 per 100,000 people every year. However, the number in low-income and middle-income countries is considerably higher.

13. About 80% of epilepsy patients live in low-income and middle-income countries. 

(WHO)

In these countries, 139 people per 100,000 are diagnosed with epilepsy. To be more specific, the percentage of people with epilepsy who live in these countries is 80%. Equally important, some of the reasons for this are the risk of endemic conditions, variations in medical infrastructure, and birth-related injuries, among others.

Statistics on Prevalence of Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a condition that might bring about many other problems, including the risk of premature death. Read on if you want to get informed on this matter. In this section, you will learn about the causes of epilepsy, the number of people in the US who have it, the extent of annual epilepsy-related expenditures, and more.

14. California has the highest number of active epilepsy cases in the US—367,900. 

(CDC)

This populous state has the highest number of active epilepsy cases in people aged 18 and over, according to the CDC epilepsy prevalence data. The state with the lowest number of cases is Wyoming—about 5,100. When it comes to the number of active epilepsy cases among children, California takes the lead yet again with 59,800 cases. Wyoming stays at the end of the list with 800 cases.

15. As many as 3 million adults have epilepsy in the United States.

(CDC)

Epilepsy is an issue many Americans of all ages face. To sum up, when it comes to the number of people with epilepsy in the United States of America, over 3 million adults and 470,000 children and teenagers aged 17 and younger have it.

16. People with epilepsy have a three times higher risk of premature death than those without it.

(WHO)

Epilepsy facts laid out by the World Health Organization reveal that the risk of premature death in people with epilepsy is three times greater than in the general population. What’s more, the highest rates of premature mortality were recorded in rural areas, as well as in low- and middle-income countries.

17. In 2010–2015, the number of adults with active epilepsy rose from 2.3 to 3 million in the US. 

(CDC)

Is epilepsy becoming more common? In only five years, the number of US adults with epilepsy grew significantly. The number of children with epilepsy also increased from 450,000 in 2007 to 470,000 in 2015. Statisticians attribute both increases to population growth.

18. 10% of people will have an unprovoked seizure in their lifetime.

(Cedars Sinai)

Astoundingly, epilepsy statistics claim that one in ten people will experience an unprovoked seizure at some point. It’s important to note that seizure and epilepsy aren’t synonymous. A seizure is a single event. In contrast, epilepsy is a neurological disorder. What characterizes the latter is two or more unprovoked seizures.

19. Epilepsy can be caused by oxygen deprivation during birth, as well as head injuries. 

(Bailey Greer)

What are the main causes of epilepsy? It’s been found that a head injury or the lack of oxygen during birth can play a big role. Then again, pediatric epilepsy doesn’t have only one cause. Thankfully, 50%–70% of children with epilepsy will experience complete seizure remission.

20. The annual epilepsy-associated costs are estimated to be $12.5 billion, facts on epilepsy disclose.

(AJMC)

What’s more, direct costs accounted for 14% and indirect for 86% of the sum. That said, the economic costs of epilepsy in the US are still highly variable, making it challenging to determine the total costs. Many statisticians and health providers suggest that the numbers might be much higher.

Statistics on Epilepsy Demographics 

Epilepsy can happen to anyone, anywhere. Fortunately, one can learn to manage the condition. That’s why proper treatment is necessary and crucial. Please keep reading to stay up-to-date as we go into more detail in the following section.

21. Epilepsy affects people of all ages—more than 470,000 children experience it.

(CDC)

First and foremost, epilepsy has been known to affect people in all age groups. For example, in the United States, over 470,000 children have epilepsy. The childhood epilepsy prevalence stats show that about 0.6% of children within the age range of 0–17 have active epilepsy.

22. Specific epileptic syndromes were found more often in women than men. 

(Springer Link)

What gender is most affected by epilepsy? While tonic-clonic seizures are more common in men, specific epileptic syndromes, such as juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, were found more often in women. Another finding of the study suggests that there are more unemployed female patients with epilepsy.

23. 50%–60% of children experiencing seizures will be free from them in adulthood.

(Healthline)

While epilepsy can happen at any age, the incidence is much higher in young children under the age of two, child epilepsy statistics show. That said, a study carried out by the Child Neurology Foundation has reported that about 50%–60% of kids with seizures will grow out of them.

24. Pediatric epilepsy’s causes are unknown in 60%–70% of cases.

(About Kids Health)

There are many causes of this condition—genetic, structural, metabolic, immune, infectious, and unknown. Important facts about epilepsy reveal that even today, in over 60% of these cases, no exact cause can be identified—a point often overlooked.

Interesting Epilepsy Facts 

Despite all the scientific data concerning the disorder, many people still believe myths about epilepsy. That is why we decided to comb through countless resources to provide you with the data that paints the most accurate picture of this common neurological condition.

25. 32% of people with epilepsy can’t work, as epilepsy statistics in the United States uncover.  

(Epilepsy Society) (CDC)

To be clear, not everyone with epilepsy has to stop doing the job they love. However, the disorder could affect one’s work. Namely, in the US, the percentage of people with epilepsy who cannot work is 32%. Often, following the loss of productivity, many people with the disorder turn to online therapy sites to find much-needed mental help.

26. 90% of adults diagnosed with active epilepsy take seizure medication.

(Epilepsy Foundation)

Unsurprisingly, more people (an astounding 95%) took seizure medicine if they saw an epilepsy specialist or a neurologist. However, a study couldn’t find any changes in the numbers of people with seizure control. Overall, seizure control is better in people with more social support, older people, and those with higher household income, according to epilepsy facts and information about epileptic seizures.

27. Focal seizures account for 60% of all epileptic seizures. 

(Healthline)

Focal seizures are known to last for a minute or two and tend to be milder by nature, allowing the person to work them through. Some of the symptoms include motor or sensory abnormalities, repetitive blinking, chewing, twitching, or walking in circles. Seizure statistics point out that focal seizures account for the majority of epileptic seizures.

28. Only two out of three people with active epilepsy see a neurologist.

(Epilepsy Foundation)

Most people with active epilepsy, namely two out of three people with the condition, opt for seeing a neurologist or an epilepsy specialist. However, the likelihood of visiting this kind of specialist depends on the following factors—one’s place of residence, age, and education.

29. People can’t swallow their tongues during a seizure, epilepsy facts confirm.

(Cleveland Clinic)

The worst thing that can happen at the time is the person biting their tongue. What one could do for a person having a seizure is roll them on one side, keeping them at a safe distance from nearby objects. If the seizure lasts more than two minutes, you should call 9-1-1.

30. 25% of US citizens feel nervous around a person with epilepsy since they may have a seizure. 

(CDC)

Interesting facts about epilepsy demonstrate that being around a person who has epilepsy makes some people nervous, mainly because they feel this person might experience a seizure at that time. A 2013 study remarked that approximately 25% of US adults felt stressed in the company of epilepsy patients.

Conclusion

To sum up, epilepsy is a common neurological condition that impacts the lives of 50 million people worldwide. Astoundingly, it disproportionately affects people in low- and middle-income countries. Based on the latest epilepsy statistics, governments all over the globe are already facing an increasing demand for assistive care and preventive programs.

Now, our team would love to invite you to check out our review of the best medical alert systems. These systems have features the people with epilepsy could find helpful: fall detection, GPS tracker, buttons to request immediate help, and many others.

FAQs

What percentage of the population has epilepsy?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, approximately 3 million adults and 470,000 children and teenagers aged 17 and younger have epilepsy in the US. In other words, about 1.2% of Americans have epilepsy.

Who is most likely to have epilepsy?

Epilepsy can happen at any age. That said, it is most commonly diagnosed in people under 20 and over 65. The reason for this is that some causes are more common in those periods. For example, birth difficulties, childhood infections, or accidents are more common in people under 20, while strokes leading to epilepsy are more common in those over 65.

Why is epilepsy so common?

Genetic influence is one of the reasons epilepsy is this common, as some of its types can run in families. That said, genes are only partially accountable for the development of epilepsy. What they do is make a person more vulnerable to specific environmental conditions that could trigger seizures. Other causes include head traumas, infectious diseases, prenatal injuries, developmental disorders, and brain conditions.

Where is epilepsy more common in the world?

Epilepsy disproportionately impacts people in low- and middle-income countries. Namely, about 80% of epilepsy patients live in those countries. What’s more, the prevalence of epilepsy is remarkably high in Latin America and Africa.

What percentage of epilepsy patients die?

People with epilepsy have a higher mortality rate (1.6–9.3 times) than the general population. Epilepsy-related causes make up 40% of mortality in people with epilepsy. These include underlying neurologic disorder in symptomatic epilepsy, accidents during epileptic seizures, SUDEP (sudden unexpected death in epilepsy), or treatment-related death.

How long can a seizure last?

Usually, seizures last between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. Then, how long can a seizure last before brain damage? The answer is that if a seizure lasts for 30 minutes or more, it may cause brain damage.

Which cartoon sent hundreds of children to the hospital from seizures?

In 1997, 685 kids experienced seizures after watching a Pokemon episode that featured an intense scene with flashing lights. Not long after hundreds of kids with epilepsy watched it, they had seizures and other related symptoms, sending them to the hospital for prompt treatment.

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