Research conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago found some interesting facts regarding people who have epilepsy and are living in high crime neighborhoods. They presented their findings at the American Epilepsy Society 2018 Conference in New Orleans. Surprisingly, people who were living in crime ridden areas of Chicago and who had epilepsy were having three times as many seizures as those who lived in areas that had lower crime rates.
Around the world, epilepsy affects more than 65 million people. There are many causes of epilepsy and seizures and this chronic neurological disorder can be difficult to control. In fact, around a third of those who suffer will still not be able to find relief from their seizures with medication. Having seizures can affect a person’s ability to drive, work, live independently and affect their personal relationships. Ultimately, it will affect a person’s overall quality of life.
Stress is a huge problem today among the entire population and just about everyone has certain elements of stress in their life. For example, it might be stress at work, school or it could be stress related to where you live. Those who live in a high crime areas with threats of violence or theft will find that they tend to have higher levels of stress. Feeling unsafe is certainly a stressful situation.
As it so happens, stress is one of the triggers that is often reported by epilepsy patients when it comes to seizures.
The study from the University of Illinois at Chicago looked at 63 adults who were living in Chicago and who suffered from epilepsy. These patients were also participating in a larger study that was testing the efficacy of a tablet-based educational tool that can provide information about epilepsy.
The researchers then looked at the level of crime in neighborhoods of the participants by mapping their zip codes. They then used the local crime rates that were available through the City of Chicago. The participants were required to self-report the number of seizures they had in the last month and within the last three months.
Researchers found that those who had epilepsy and live in areas with higher crime rates tend to have more seizures. In fact, they found that on average, those who were in the high crime rate area would have about three times as many seizures as those who lived in low crime rate areas when comparing data over 30 days. When they looked at 90 days worth of data, they found that the people in the high crime areas would have seven seizures compared to those living in low crime areas who had three seizures.
The results led the researchers to link seizures and high crime rates. However, they did not find any links between the neighborhood crime states and the duration of the epilepsy or between crime status and poverty.
Researchers believe that they need to better understand the effects of crime and violence as triggers to seizures and that more research needs to be done. Only with more research and knowledge regarding epilepsy and stress will they eventually be able to improve methods of stress management and self-management to better deal with seizures.