Mayo Clinic Logo Ictal asystole is an unusual condition in which the heart supposedly stops beating during an epileptic seizure. Though the heart may almost always restart on its own, sometimes as much as 20 to 30 seconds can pass where no blood flows to the brain. This can allegedly cause the patient to collapse and fall during a seizure. Mayo Clinic scientists now suggest that epilepsy patients with seizure-related falls due to ictal asystole can greatly benefit from cardiac pacing.

The study was conducted on seven patients suffering from ictal asystole. All the volunteers had a history of falls related to the ailment before undergoing cardiac pacing at Mayo Clinic between 1990 and 2004. Identification of the condition was noted after observing the subject’s seizures during computer-assisted continuous video electroencephalography/electrocardiography (EEG/ECG). Scientists mention that the rate of injury and falls declined after the patients received their implants.

Prior to the implantation, the average fall rate apparently was more than three falls per month. However, after implantation this was possibly reduced to 0.005 falls per month. Jeffrey W. Britton, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurologist and study author and colleagues also found three of the seven patients that needed less seizure medication after receiving their implants. It was mentioned that along with a decrease in the number of falls, some anti-seizure properties can be seemingly linked with pacemaker implantation.

The study was published in the journal Epilepsia.