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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Neurology 1/2017

Laboratory markers of cardiac and metabolic complications after generalized tonic-clonic seizures

BMC Neurology > Ausgabe 1/2017
Robert D. Nass, Sina Meiling, René P. Andrié, Christian E. Elger, Rainer Surges



Generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) frequently lead to emergency inpatient referrals. Laboratory blood values are routinely performed on admission to detect underlying causes and metabolic or cardiac complications. Our goal was to assess the nature and frequency of complications occurring in association with GTCS.


We retrospectively extracted data from emergency protocols and discharge letters of adult patients admitted to the Department of Epileptology between 01/2010 and 06/2015. Inclusion criteria were diagnosis of GTCS and admission via emergency services. Exclusion criteria were status epilepticus prior to admission to hospital and non-generalized seizures.


A total of 223 patients (of 986 screened cases) were included. Overall, 1.8% required intubation while 1.3% had less severe respiratory problems. In 5.6% of patients, a transient hypoxemia was measured. Hypertensive urgencies affected 7.8% of the patients, sinus tachycardia occurred in 41.2%. Troponin I (cTNI) was determined in 75 patients and was increased in 12% of these cases. Occurrence of elevated cTNI levels was significantly correlated with patient’s age. Four patients were diagnosed with NSTEMI and one patient with STEMI. Creatine kinase (CK) was increased in 59.4% of the patients, with <5-fold increases in 47%, <10-fold in 5.8% and >10-fold increases in 4.3%. Rhabdomyolysis with an >50 fold increase in CK was detected in 1.9% of patients. Prolonged disturbances of consciousness affected 5% of cases while agitation, delirium, and psychotic episodes occurred in 6.3%. Minor traumatic injuries affected 45.7% of patients.


Troponin elevations in association with GTCS are one of the more common complications after emergency admissions especially in older patients. In our selected patient population, serious complications such as intracranial hemorrhage, myocardial infarction and acute renal failure occurred in <1% of GTCS only.
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