New study identifies brain region associated with breathing failure following seizures

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- U.S. researchers have identified a part of the brain that may be associated with breathing failure following a seizure in people with severe epilepsy that cannot be controlled with medication, according to a new study published on Tuesday.

The condition, known as sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), is the leading cause of death in such patient population, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The new findings, by researchers at the University of Iowa, are published in JCI Insight.

To understand causes of postictal apnea, the research team used a multimodal approach to study brain mechanisms of breathing control in 20 patients undergoing intracranial electroencephalography for intractable epilepsy. The results indicate that amygdala seizures can cause postictal apnea.

Moreover, the research team identified a distinct region within the amygdala where electrical stimulation was sufficient to reproduce prolonged breathing loss persisting well beyond the end of stimulation.

The findings further increase understanding of SUDEP and may help uncover preventative treatments and identify those most at risk, said NIH.

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