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Who Has Epilepsy? with Chris Gorham & Joe Sirven, M.D.

Anyone can develop seizures in their lifetime – You can be young. You can be old. You can be any race or gender. One in 10 of us will have a seizure during our life. One in 26 of us will develop epilepsy.

Between one and two percent of the United States population lives with active epilepsy – the potential to have a seizure not caused by a temporary condition like high fever.  In other words, close to 4 million people live with active epilepsy. Just in the US. In the whole world, it is closer to 65 million people living with active epilepsy.

That's 65 million reasons to talk about epilepsy, to learn about it, and to work together to make a difference in education and awareness world-wide. 

Christopher Gorham: Millions of people in the United States and tens of millions around the world live with epilepsy. One in 26 people will develop epilepsy during their lifetime. Who is most likely to be diagnosed with epilepsy and why? Let’s find out.

Joe Sirven, M.D. (Mayo Clinic/Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, You hit it - there's 2 big groups in which we see seizures happen most frequently. When they're super young, so as a baby, seizures a little more likely to occur, and then the other group is when you are 65 years and older.

Greg: Really?

Joe: Yes, that's the group when we see seizures happen a lot.  But having said that, seizures can happen at any age. 

Greg: So wait, do you think it's because, on the young side, your brain is developing so rapidly, and (on the older side) you're losing brain cells at 65? (laughter) Why at 65 and up?

Joe: It has to do with what causes seizures in that group. Often times the biggest cause of seizures in an older adult group are strokes. Then  another group is Alzheimer's, which happens in older adults. 
When they're younger it's more to do with when things present, or there could be infection; because it's the immature brain that's firing off too much and not getting the brakes put on. So those are the big groups, but again - any age. 

Greg: Not more during puberty?

Joe: Oddly enough, not necessarily, although there are some that can occur and present during that time, but as a whole, as you take in the big picture as far as the biggest presentation of new seizures, really it's the younger and the older.

Greg: Wow, that's interesting.

Christopher: To learn more about epilepsy, be sure to visit