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Research finds effective alternatives for treating long-lasting seizures

A recent study concludes there may be several effective treatment options for patients suffering from long-lasting seizures. That is the conclusion of a national study of 384 patients seeking treatment at 57 emergency departments, including University Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Many patients suffering from seizures that persist five minutes or longer are effectively treated with benzodiazepines, which include the brand-name medications Valium, Ativan and Versed. About one-third of seizure patients, however, do not respond to those drugs.

The study, supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a part of the National Institutes of Health, looked at three other FDA-approved drugs ¬- levetiracetam, fosphenytoin and valproate. The goal was to determine which might be the best alternative.

Researchers at University Hospital and UT Health San Antonio enrolled patients for the study between November 2015 and December 2018. The results published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that each of the three drugs was an effective option for approximately half of the patients who did not respond to benzodiazepine medications. All performed equally well, which is important to know in case there is a shortage of a specific medication.

To learn more about the study, referred to as the Established Status Epilepticus Treatment Trial, visit the ESETT website at
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