Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) represents one of the primary causes of death directly associated with epilepsy. Approximately 1 in 1,000 people with epilepsy dies from SUDEP each year. As a complex phenomenon, the underlying mechanisms of SUDEP remain unknown. However, there is increasing evidence suggesting an important role for cardiac and respiratory alterations in this context. These include cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac and autonomic changes, central and obstructive apnea, and disruptions in both arousal mechanisms and the chemoreflex.
Therefore, this lecture will address the scientific evidence, both clinical and experimental, that links cardiac and respiratory dysfunctions to higher risk and even as a cause of SUDEP. The aim is to deepen understanding of this complex topic, which profoundly impacts those living with epilepsy.