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Can Alzheimer’s Cause Seizures?

Seizures in Alzheimer's Patients

Can Alzheimer’s Cause Seizures?

Alzheimer’s increases the risk of a person getting a seizure by a two-to-six-fold increase. 10% to 26% of all Alzheimer’s patients will experience some form of seizure whether it’s apparent or not. The triggers for the seizures are yet to be discovered but certain characteristics place some people at a higher risk than others.

The types of seizures in people with Alzheimer’s include:

  • Partial complex seizures: this is where a patient becomes unaware of their surroundings and engages in unconscious actions like fumbling, wandering or lip-smacking.
  • Generalized ronic-clonic seizures where a patient experiences all-body convulsions which are accompanied by an abrupt loss of consciousness and bladder control.

The seizures usually last between 30 seconds and two minutes. When the seizure lasts for more than five minutes, it is called a status epilepticus.

Alzheimer’s is caused by the gradual accumulation of a protein known as beta-amyloid in the brain which leads to brain damage. Most people may associate the seizures to the brain degeneration but they are generally a result of the build-up of beta-amyloid in the brain.

The risk factors for Alzheimer’s seizures include:

  • Early-onset Alzheimer’s.
  • Mutations of the genes presenilin 1 and 2 which are associated with the hyper-production of APP.

The severity of the seizures will depend on the stage of Alzheimer’s but not every patient will experience seizures. In most cases, seizures won’t present themselves until the later stages of Alzheimer’s. In some cases, an Alzheimer’s patient’s seizure may be mistaken for symptoms of the underlying Alzheimer’s.

If you are caring for a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and you believe he/she may be experiencing seizures due to their condition, you should seek professional consultation to learn how you may be of assistance during such an episode.