Introduction: Epilepsy is among the commonest neurological disorders globally. Appropriate prescription and good adherence to anticonvulsants can achieve seizure freedom rates of 70%. Scotland is an affluent nation with free at point-of-access health care but there remain significant healthcare inequalities, particularly associated with deprivation. Anecdotally, epileptics in rural Ayrshire rarely engage with healthcare services. We describe the prevalence and management of epilepsy in a deprived and rural Scottish population.
Methods: Electronic records were used to obtain the following for patients with coded diagnoses of 'Epilepsy' or 'Seizures' within a general practice list of 3500 patients: demographics; diagnosis; seizure types; date and level (primary, secondary) of last review; last seizure date; anticonvulsant prescription; adherence; and any clinic discharge due to non-attendance.
Results: 92 patients were coded as above. 56 had a current diagnosis of epilepsy (prev 16.1/100,000). 69% had good adherence. 56% had good seizure control, with adherence associated with control. Of the 68% managed by primary care, 33% were uncontrolled and 13% had had an epilepsy review in the previous year. 45% of patients referred to secondary care were discharged for non-attendance.
Discussion: We demonstrate a high prevalence of epilepsy, low anticonvulsant adherence and sub-optimal rates of seizure freedom. These may be linked to poor attendance at specialist clinics. Management in primary care is challenging as evidenced by low review rates and high rates of ongoing seizures. We propose that the synergistic factors of uncontrolled epilepsy, deprivation and rurality make it difficult to attend clinics, with resultant health inequalities.