Worldwide, 65 million people have epilepsy. That includes about 3 million people in the United States, where there are 150,000 new cases of epilepsy diagnosed each year.
As many as 500 genes may relate to epilepsy in some way. For most people, the risk of developing epilepsy before age 20 is about 1 percent. Having a parent with genetically linked epilepsy raises that risk to 2 to 5 percent.
For people over age 35, a leading cause of epilepsy is stroke. For 6 in 10 people, the cause of a seizure can’t be determined.
Between 15 to 30 percent of children with intellectual disabilities have epilepsy. Between 30 and 70 percent of people who have epilepsy also have depression, anxiety, or both.
Sudden unexplained death affects about 1 percent of people with epilepsy.
Between 60 and 70 percent of people with epilepsy respond satisfactorily to the first anti-epilepsy drug they try. About 50 percent can stop taking medications after two to five years without a seizure.
One-third of people with epilepsy have uncontrollable seizures because they haven’t found a treatment that works. More than half of people with epilepsy who don’t respond to medication improve with a ketogenic diet. Half of adults who try a modified Atkins diet have fewer seizures.