Asystole in the epilepsy unit

Asaf Honig, Shmuel Chen, Felix Benninger, Rima Bar-Yossef, Roni Eichel, Svetlana Kipervasser, Ilan Blatt, Miri Y. Neufeld, Dana Ekstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Early identification of cardiac asystole as a reason for syncope is of uttermost significance, as insertion of a cardiac pacemaker can save the patient's life and prevent severe injury. The aim of this work was to emphasize the subtle and unusual presentations of asystole in patients evaluated in epilepsy units. Methods: We reviewed the clinical presentation, ECG and EEG data of a series of seven patients who were evaluated in four epilepsy units and were diagnosed with asystole. Results: Three patients had unusual clinical manifestations of cardiac asystole, resembling epileptic seizures. Three patients had asystole induced by epileptic seizures and in one patient the diagnosis was not clear. All patients except one were implanted with a pacemaker and improved clinically. Conclusions: Seizure-induced asystole is a rare complication of epilepsy and asystole may clinically mimic epileptic seizures. A high level of suspicion and thorough prolonged cardiac and EEG monitoring are mandatory for reaching the right diagnosis. As the diagnosis is rare and difficult to reach, a flow chart to assist diagnosis is suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Article number80
JournalBMC Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 14 May 2015


  • Asystole
  • Cardiac
  • Ictal
  • Pacemaker


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