SUDEP Action

Making every epilepsy death count
Call us now on 01235 772850

Epilepsy and Status-epilepticus

Some people call this ‘status’ for short

You may want to ask people to tell you how long your seizures last.  It will help your doctor to know if you have seizures which last a long time or happen one after another. 

Some people with epilepsy have very long seizures that cannot be stopped without emergency medication.  These may be called:

  • Status epilepticus when a seizure lasts for 30 minutes or more.
  • Cluster seizures where seizures occur one after another without recovery in between. 

If these seizures are convulsive seizures (tonic-clonic) urgent treatment with emergency medication will be needed to stop the seizures. NICE guidelines recommend that emergency medication is started 5 minutes after a person first goes into prolonged seizures or if they have 3 or more convulsive seizures in an hour.

The International League Against Epilepsy's (ILAE) working group on Status Epilepticus has recommended a new definition for this type of seizure emergency. This definition recognises the need for a shorter time period (5 minutes) when prolonged seizure(s) should be recognised and action taken, but also keeps the longer time frame (30 minutes) for a seizure to help recognise when a prolonged seizure leads to poor outcomes.

Early treatment in the community can stop a long seizure or a run of seizures.  Health professionals can give you a plan which may include: 

  • Epilepsy rescue medications which are used to prevent status epilepticus developing.
  • Advise others what to do when you have seizures and when to call the emergency services.

Specialist information is available from Epilepsy Society on emergency medications.