Reducing Epileptic Seizures in Adults Possible

The Atkins-like diet, which has shown promise for seizure control in children, may offer a new lifeline for patients when drugs and other treatments fail or cause complications. Why exactly the ketogenic diet works remains unknown, and it is notoriously difficult to follow, relying almost solely on fat and protein for calories. Consequently, doctors typically recommend it only for children, whose parents can strictly monitor their eating habits. The ketogenic diet is almost never prescribed to adults, who generally make their own food choices and often have difficulty complying with the diet’s strict guidelines.

Eric H. Kossoff, M.D., an assistant professor of neurology and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said 30 adults with epilepsy, ages 18 to 53 years, who had tried at least two anticonvulsant drugs without success and had an average of 10 seizures per week, were placed on the modified Atkins diet. All patients were seen for free in the Johns Hopkins General Clinical Research Center.

Results showed that about half the patients had experienced a 50 percent reduction in the frequency of their seizures by the first clinic visit. About a third of the patients halved the frequency of seizures by three months. Side effects linked with the diet, such as a rise in cholesterol or triglycerides, were mild. A third of the patients dropped out by the third month, unable to comply with the restrictions.

Fourteen patients who stuck with the diet until the six-month mark chose to continue, even after the study ended-a testament to how effective the diet worked to treat their epilepsy, Kossoff notes. Though the modified Atkins diet won’t be a good fit for all patients, he says, “it opens up another therapeutic option for adults trying to decide between medication, surgery and electrical stimulation to treat intractable seizures.; Source: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions