Highlights in clinical autonomic neurosciences: Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy

William P. Cheshire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is an important unresolved problem affecting many patients with recurrent seizures. Amongst the mechanisms postulated are ictal or postictal cardiac arrhythmias, central hypoventilation or apnea, and neurogenic pulmonary edema. Across these categories, a common element appears to be some form of autonomic dysregulation. Accordingly, the search for biomarkers of SUDEP risk has focused increasingly on autonomic findings. Emerging models implicate attenuated cardiac vagal modulation coupled with surging cardiac sympathetic activity, neuronal dropout in the nucleus tractus solitarii, and in some cases genetic factors affecting ion channel behavior. Explicating the crucial links between brain and heart in epilepsy benefits from collaboration amongst neurologists, cardiologists, physiologists, and other specialists with an interest in the autonomic nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-8
Number of pages4
JournalAutonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Apnea
  • Arrhythmia
  • Cardiac
  • Central
  • Channelopathies
  • Epilepsy
  • Generalized
  • Long QT syndrome
  • Nucleus of the solitary tract
  • Seizures
  • Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy
  • Tonic-clonic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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