Might green spaces reduce the risk of SUDEP?

A group of Brazilian researchers say that living near green spaces might help reduce the risk of sudden death in epilepsy (SUDEP).

The UK’s Epilepsy Society explains SUDEP as a sudden, unexpected event ‘when someone is believed to have died during or after a seizure where no other cause of death can be found.’

Writing in an upcoming issue of the journal Epilepsy and Behaviour, Fulvio Scorza and colleagues at San Paulo University say that people with epilepsy can reduce their risk of SUDEP by reducing seizure frequency -particularly generalised tonic-clonic seizures- through ‘lifestyle measures, including participation in physical activity and sports, dietary management (e.g., omega-3 supplementation), and reduction of stress. Adherence to medication regimes obviously plays a major role. Night supervision is also a factor.

Interestingly, the researchers also say given that research appears to show that green spaces have a positive effect on health; and that people experience higher levels of stress in urban areas, the living environment might also affect seizure frequency.

They conclude “It is reasonable to hypothesize that people with epilepsy who live in greener environments may thereby be able to attenuate the frequency of seizures (reducing stress level and therefore decreasing the sympathetic nervous system activity), cardiovascular dysfunctions and hence [reduce the risk of] SUDEP.”

Readers concerned about SUDEP can find out more at the websites of the Epilepsy Society. Support for those affected is also available at SUDEP Action.


Fulvio A. Scorza, Geraldo J. Possendoro and Carla A. Scorza (2016) How might green spaces affect health-related behavior of people with epilepsy? Epilepsy & Behaviour http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2016.09.005, forthcoming.