In March, 2017 The Educational Journal of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) published a paper entitled: “SUDEP: what every neurologist should know”. In it they write:
“SUDEP risk increases with less well controlled epilepsy.”
“There are currently no established evidence based prevention strategies.”
Though the ILAE makes strong suggestions that medications and surgery may decrease chances of SUDEP, there is not a single mention of Ketogenic Therapies. This despite nearly a century of overwhelming data, including two randomized controlled studies, documenting that a Ketogenic Diet reduces seizures by at least 50% in 50% of the people who try it; and eliminates seizures completely in 15-25%.
According to the ILAE: “By far the greatest clinical risk factor for SUDEP is frequency of generalized tonic clonic seizures.” So, if you reduce tonic clonic seizures by 50% with diet, you reduce the chance of SUDEP by 50%. If you eliminate these seizures with diet, you eliminate the greatest risk factor for SUDEP.
Why then did the ILAE fail to mention the Ketogenic Diet?
It is noteworthy that in their disclaimers the authors of the ILAE paper disclose they receive benefits from pharmaceutical companies UCB, Eisai, Janssen, Lilly, Servier, Astra Zeneca and Neuro Sigma among others.
Please watch this video of Jeff Buchhalter MD PhD addressing an alternative point of view regarding the relationship between the Ketogenic Diet and SUDEP.
In addition to reviewing further articles on SUDEP, we’ll be posting a series of diet and nutrition topics with evidence of benefit for people with epilepsy. Stay tuned for the next post about how Vitamin D can improve seizure control.