This article provides information about the prevalence and impact of epilepsy, based on the 2010 and 2011 Canadian Community Health Surveys, the 2011/2012 Survey of Neurological Conditions in Institutions in Canada, and the 2011 Survey on Living with Neurological Conditions in Canada. An estimated 139,200 Canadians had epilepsy. Among the household population, epilepsy was generally diagnosed before age 30 (75%). For the majority of these people (64%), epilepsy was their only neurological condition. People with epilepsy were more than twice as likely to have been diagnosed with a mood disorder, compared with the general population (17% versus 7%), and eight times as likely to experience incontinence (34% versus 4%). Overall, an estimated 18% reported that their life was affected quite a bit or extremely by epilepsy; 44% felt that their life was impacted a little bit or moderately; and 39% felt that their life was not impacted at all. This study examined the impact of epilepsy on interactions with others, sleep, driving, education, and employment.


Medication, neurological disease prevalence, survey


Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition characterized by spontaneous seizures, ranging in severity from a lapse in concentration to unconsciousness. The World Health Organization recognizes epilepsy as a major public health concern, estimating that more than 50 million people worldwide live with the condition. Epilepsy may be genetic in origin or the result of conditions affecting the brain such as tumors, infection, head injury, lack of oxygen (for example, at birth), and stroke. However, in more than half of cases, the cause is unknown. Epilepsy can be diagnosed at any age, and is associated with increased risk of premature death. An estimated 65% to 85% of cases eventually enter long-term remission. [Full Text]


Heather Gilmour (Heather.Gilmour@canada.ca), Pamela Ramage-Morin (Pamela.Ramage-Morin@canada.ca) and Suzy Wong (Suzy.Wong@canada.ca) are with the Health Analysis Division at Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0T6.

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