Epilepsy Drugs Linked to Bone Fractures, Osteoporosis

It’s estimated that about 2.0 million people in the United States have epilepsy and nearly 140,000 Americans develop the condition each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This brain disorder causes repeated seizures and occurs when permanent changes in brain tissue cause the brain to be too excitable or jumpy. The brain sends out abnormal signals and the result is seizures. People battling this condition are often prescribed medication to ease the symptoms, but new research shows these medications may cause other complications.

New Side Effects Revealed

A study led by the University of Melbourne, shows people taking antiepileptic drugs are up to four times more likely to suffer spine, collarbone and ankle fractures. Heartburn medication has also been linked to increased risk of bone fractures. The study also shows an increased risk osteoporosis.

Chief Investigator, Prof John Wark from the University of Melbourne’s Department of Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital said this research revealed new information critical to understanding the higher risk for fractures and falls in epilepsy patients taking antiepileptic medication.

“We believe patients need to be offered better information to help them to avoid these risks and prevent injury,” he said.

No published studies have explored epilepsy patients’ awareness of the side effects medications can have on bone health, fracture risk and falls.  This study indicates that awareness of these issues is poor and needs improvement.

 “Most patients indicated they would like to be better informed about these issues, suggesting that more effective education strategies are warranted and would be well-received,” Wark said. “Epilepsy patients should be assessed regularly for their history of falls and fractures for appropriate management strategies to be offered.”

The Cost of Epilepsy

The total indirect and direct cost of epilepsy in the United States is estimated to be $15.5 billion, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.