Document Type



Family Medicine (East Africa)


Objective: We estimated premature mortality and identified causes of death and associated factors in people with active convulsive epilepsy (ACE) in rural Kenya.

Methods: In this prospective population-based study, people with ACE were identified in a crosssectional survey and followed up regularly for 3 years, during which information on deaths and associated factors was collected. We used a validated verbal autopsy tool to establish putative causes of death. Age-specific rate ratios and standardized mortality ratios were estimated. Poisson regression was used to identify mortality risk factors.

Results: There were 61 deaths among 754 people with ACE, yielding a rate of 33.3/1,000 persons/year. Overall standardized mortality ratio was 6.5. Mortality was higher across all ACE age groups. Nonadherence to antiepileptic drugs (adjusted rate ratio [aRR] 3.37), cognitive impairment (aRR4.55), and age (501 years) (rate ratio 4.56) were risk factors for premature mortality. Most deaths (56%) were directly related to epilepsy, with prolonged seizures/possible status epilepticus (38%) most frequently associated with death; some of these may have been due to sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Possible SUDEP was the likely cause in another 7%.

Conclusion: Mortality in people with ACE was more than 6-fold greater than expected. This may be reduced by improving treatment adherence and prompt management of prolonged seizures and supporting those with cognitive impairment.