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Science
CASE NOTES
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Tuesday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Wednesday 16:30
Dr Graham Easton gives listeners the low-down on what the medical profession does and doesn't know. Each week an expert in the studio tackles a particular topic and there are reports from around the UK on the health of the nation - and the NHS.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 13 August
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DR GRAHAM EASTON
Dr Graham Easton
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Tuesday 13 August 2002
brain scan

Seizure

One in twenty of us will experience a seizure at some time in our lives. In this week's Case Notes Graham Easton investigates what causes them and the various forms they can take. He meets someone who has become accustomed to having convulsions and knows what it feels like to come round in a public place, and he takes advice from the experts on what you should do - and shouldn't do - if you come across a person who's having a seizure.

Epilepsy is a common cause of seizures, and there are some 1000 epilepsy-related deaths every year in the UK. Of these around half are sudden and unexpected. Graham is joined by Dr Matthew Walker of the Institute of Neurology at University College London to talk about treatments available for the condition, their effectiveness and how deaths could be avoided.

There are many non-epileptic causes of seizure too, including panic attacks, stress avoidance and so-called "manipulative" attacks. Manipulative convulsions can appear similar to epilepsy but do not have the same underlying changes in brain activity, and are therefore very difficult to diagnose accurately. Graham asks how experts tell the difference - and how can they help patients.

Reporter Lesley Hilton hears about another common form of non-epileptic seizure - febrile convulsions. These are associated with fever, usually in children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. She finds out why high temperatures can cause these seizures, how to deal with them, and whether these children have an increased chance of developing epilepsy as adults.

Our understanding of what's going on in the brain during a seizure has come a long way since the very early days when people believed that epilepsy was caused by a build up of phlegm in the brain. Graham Easton visits the National Society for Epilepsy in Buckinghamshire where he speaks to Director Dr John Duncan about the latest research.
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