Background: Patients with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) are especially prone to having antiseizure medications (ASMs) withdrawal seizures (WS).
Objectives: To clarify whether WS in JME patients are caused by a high tendency of non-adherence from seizure-free patients or by a constitutive increased sensitivity to drug withdrawal.
Methods: Epilepsy patients followed in a tertiary epilepsy clinic between 2010 and 2013 were included in the study. WS prevalence was compared between drug-responsive and drug-resistant JME patients and patients with other types of epilepsy.
Results: The study included 23 JME patients (16 drug-responsive and 7 drug-resistant) and 138 patients with other epilepsies (74 drug-responsive and 64 drug-resistant). JME patients were younger and included more women than non-JME patients. Significantly more WS were seen in JME than in non-JME patients (P = 0.01) and in the drug-resistant fraction of JME patients in comparison to drug-resistant non-JME patients (P = 0.02). On logistic regression, the type of epilepsy, but not the patient’s sex, was found to significantly predict WS. No significant difference was found in the prevalence of WS between drug-responsive and drug-resistant JME patients. The main ASM discontinued in JME was valproic acid (VPA), especially in women.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest a higher sensitivity of JME patients to withdrawal of medications. It is important to educate JME patients about treatment adherence and to explain to their physicians how to carefully reduce or replace ASMs to mitigate the morbidity and mortality related to ASM withdrawal