Last edited 08/2018 and last reviewed 05/2021
Accurate estimates of incidence and prevalence are difficult to achieve due
to difficulties faced in identifying the disease.
It is estimated that (1):
- around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy out of which close to 90% of cases are seen in developing regions (2)
- around 600,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with epilepsy and take anti epileptic drugs. This is equivalent to around 1 in 103 people (9.7 per 1,000 or 0.97 %). According to 2010 population estimates the prevalence rate in each country is as follows
- in England - 1 in 105 people (0.95 %)
- in Wales - 1 in 94 people (1.06 %)
- in Scotland - 1 in 97 people (1.03%)
- in Northern Ireland - 1 in 90 people (1.11%) (3)
The incidence of epilepsy in
- UK is estimated to be 51 per 100,000 per year which is equivalent to around
- 32,000 new cases diagnosed per year
- 87 new cases each day of the year (based on 2010 population) (3)
- United States - 44 out of 100,000 persons
- sub-Saharan Africa - 63 to 158 out of 100,000 persons (4)
Epilepsy may affect people of all ages. But most commonly it develops in childhood (with more than half of patients developing seizures before the age of 15). A second peak can be observed in patients who are over 60 years (almost a quarter of people with newly diagnosed epilepsy) (5)
About 70% of patients with epilepsy are successfully treated with established anti-epileptic drugs, over 50% of these patients will eventually be able to stop medication. The annual cost of epilepsy in the UK is £2 billion
- (1) National Clinical Guideline Centre (NCGC) 2012. The epilepsies: the diagnosis and management of the epilepsies in adults and children in primary and secondary care.
- (2) World Health Organisation (WHO) 2009. Factsheet: Epilepsy
- (3) The Joint Epilepsy Council (JEC) 2011. Epilepsy prevalence, incidence and other statistics
- (4) Maguire M et al. Clinical Evidence Handbook. A Publication of BMJ Publishing Group. Epilepsy (Generalized and Partial).Am Fam Physician. 2011;83(4):461-463
- (5) Epilepsy Action 2005. The role of primary care in epilepsy management 2.