On July 6, 2019, the world heard of the untimely loss of popular Disney actor, Cameron Boyce, at the young age of 20. His sudden death, which was due to a condition called sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), brought about a great outcry and also questions about the condition he died from.

What is sudden unexpected death in epilepsy?

Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is a term used for the unexpected death of a person with epilepsy, without any other known cause of death. It usually occurs during or after a seizure. It’s particularly disconcerting because it often affects those who are young and otherwise healthy.

Medical professionals still have a lot to learn about SUDEP. They aren’t sure why some people with epilepsy pass away suddenly. More research is needed to understand how and why this happens. For most people, epilepsy is not a life-threatening condition. But the outcome can be tragic for some, as in the case of Cameron Boyce .

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Do we know what causes sudden unexpected death in epilepsy?

The exact cause of SUDEP is not known. It’s believed that a severe seizure can make the heart beat too fast, causing a heart attack. Other theories suggest that intense seizures can temporarily stop the heart or cause a person to stop breathing. Unfortunately, due to the suddenness of these events, it’s often difficult to determine a definitive cause.

It’s important to remember that SUDEP is relatively rare, particularly in people with well-controlled epilepsy. Nonetheless, understanding the risk factors leading to SUDEP remains a critical issue for ongoing research in an effort to prevent these tragic deaths.

I or a loved one have epilepsy. What can we do?

The best way to prevent SUDEP is to lower your risk of seizures, which usually involves taking antiepileptic medication as prescribed. Other steps you can take include:

  • Maintaining regular sleep patterns: Not getting enough sleep can trigger seizures.
  • Avoiding triggers: These triggers can vary from person to person, but may include stress, alcohol, and specific foods or medications.
  • Using a seizure alert device: These wearable devices can detect when you’re having a seizure and alert a friend or family member.
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Regular check-ups with your doctor are also important. They can adjust your treatment plan as needed and help you manage any other health conditions that could be increasing your risk of seizures.


This article has been written by a professional content writer with an extensive knowledge about epilepsy and SUDEP. The content provided is based on vetted information and research to ensure its accuracy and credibility.

Disclosure statement

The author does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article. She has no relevant affiliations beyond her academic appointment.

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This article has been written in collaboration with various neurological specialists and organisations, ensuring the information provided is upto date and accurate. The safety and wellbeing of readers is our primary concern.

Heading Summary
Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) An unexpected fatal occurrence that often happens after a seizure to otherwise healthy individuals.
Causes of SUDEP Exact cause is unknown but theories suggest severe seizures causing heart failure or cessation of breathing.
Preventing SEUDEP Risks lowered through controlling seizures with medication, maintaining healthy sleep patterns, avoiding personal triggers, and using a seizure alert device.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that SEUDEP is a rare occurrence and epilepsy can be managed effectively. This piece has extensively detailed the cause, risk factors and preventive measures. This information is designed to promote understanding and facilitate discussion about epilepsy and SUDEP.

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