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Stress trigger epileptic seizures

PTI | Washington |

Sleep deprivation and stress are the major triggers of seizures, according to a new study that tracked epilepsy patients using a smartwatch app.

The study, that was carried out in the span of 10 months, had 598 people sign up to track their seizures through an smartwatch app called EpiWatch.

When participants felt a seizure aura starting, they opened the app. Using the smartwatch's sensors, the app recorded participants' heart rate and movements for 10 minutes.

The app asked them to perform tasks to test responsiveness. After the seizure ended, participants were given a brief survey about seizure type, aura, loss of awareness and possible seizure triggers.

"The data collected will help researchers better understand epilepsy, while helping people with epilepsy keep a more complete history of their seizures," said Gregory Krauss, from Johns Hopkins University in US.

"The app also provides helpful tracking of seizures, prescription medication use and drug side effects – activities that are important in helping people manage their condition," Krauss said.

In all, 40 per cent of the group tracked a total of 1,485 seizures, with 177 participants reporting what triggered their seizures.

Stress was the most common trigger, linked to 37 per cent of seizures. Participants also identified lack of sleep as a trigger for 18 per cent of the seizures.

Menstruation, overexertion, diet, missed medication and fever or infection were other triggers, according to the study.

It was also noted that seizure triggers did not vary by the type of seizure people had.

"Seizures are very unpredictable. Our eventual goal is to be able to use wearable technology to predict an oncoming seizure.

"This could potentially save lives as well as give people with epilepsy more freedom. The data collected in this study helps us take a step in that direction," said Krauss.