An update on the prevalence and incidence of epilepsy among older adults

Queeny Ip, Daniel C. Malone, Jenny Chong, Robin B. Harris, David M. Labiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective To estimate the prevalence and incidence of epilepsy among beneficiaries of Arizona Medicare aged 65 and over. Methods An analysis of Medicare administrative claims data for 2009–2011 for the State of Arizona was conducted. Epilepsy was defined as a beneficiary who had either ≥ one claim with diagnostic code of 345.xx (epilepsy) or at least two claims with diagnosis code of 780.3x (seizure) ≥30 days apart. Stroke-related and psychiatric comorbidities were determined by diagnostic codes. Average annual prevalence and incidence were calculated and stratified by demographic characteristics and comorbidities. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated as measures of effect for prevalence and incidence and the chi-square statistic was calculated to compare the proportions of epilepsy cases with and without comorbidities (alpha = 0.05). Results The overall average annual prevalence and incidence over the study period was 15.2/1000 and 6.1/1000, respectively. Relative to the 65–69 age group and White beneficiaries, the highest prevalence was observed for beneficiaries 85 years or older (19.8/1000, OR 1.66, 95% CI 1.53–1.81) and Native Americans (21.2/1000, OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.25–1.62). In contrast, the highest incidence rates were observed for beneficiaries 85 years and older (8.5/1000, OR 1.82, 95% CI 1.60–2.07) and for Black beneficiaries (8.7/1000, OR 1.44, 95% CI 1.12–1.86). The incidence rate for Native Americans was not significantly different from that for White beneficiaries (6.2/1000, OR 1.02, 95% CI 0.81–1.29). More than one quarter of all cases (25.7%) and 31% of incident cases had either stroke-related and/or psychiatric comorbidities (all p-values < 0.001). Conclusions Epilepsy is a significant neurological disease among Medicare beneficiaries 65 years and older. Beneficiaries aged 85 and older and Black and Native Americans experienced higher rates of epilepsy than other demographic subgroups compared to White beneficiaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-112
Number of pages6
JournalEpilepsy Research
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Comorbidities
  • Epilepsy
  • Incidence
  • Medicare
  • Prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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