Scientists Find Relation Between Acid Reflux and Death While Seizures

EpilepsyU

Camilo Zeballos, Reporter

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For many years scientist questioned what causes sudden death during epileptic seizures. In Indiana, scientist found that acid reflux could be the cause.

According to an article by Medical News Today, Prof. Pedro Irazoqu, head of the research team from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, was inspired by his own experience with reflux. “One night, following a substantial lobster dinner, he awoke unable to breathe. He sat up in bed, and air quickly returned to his lungs.” He hypothesized that stomach acid had reached his larynx, and caused his throat to spasm and close off in order to protect the soft tissue around his vocal cords. According to the article, this process is called a Laryngospasm. A Laryngospasm is a “natural defense mechanism triggered by the low pH of stomach acid.”

To test his hypothesis he decided to test it out in lab rats. Normally this acid reflux would cause you to wake up in the night and sit up, but during a spasm, you stay unconscience and are unable to get it and get the acid back down. This could be what causes sudden cardiac arrest in epileptic patients. The results of his test do seem to support his hypothesis, but his test group was small and more testing is needed. If he is able to recreate these results through these details could help medical teams around the world save many more thousands of lives.