What are partial-onset seizures? Can VIMPAT help? The articles below can help give you a bigger picture view of epilepsy, from both the clinical angle and the patient perspective. Everyone is different, so be sure to follow up with your neurologist and ask if VIMPAT is right for you.
How are partial-onset seizures classified? Can they spread to other parts of the brain? Understanding the differences between the types of partial-onset seizures could help you better communicate with your neurologist. Read this article >
Meet Mark, a man whose very first partial-onset seizure involved an overpowering feeling of déjà vu. Read how it affected him and learn about his experience treating his partial-onset seizures with VIMPAT. Read this article >
Lydia’s body was trying to tell her things, but it took her many years – and the help of an epileptologist – to figure it out. Learn how adding VIMPAT helped Lydia take the next step in partial-onset seizure control. Read this article >
There are many types of seizures. The two main kinds are called "partial-onset" and "generalized." Partial-onset seizures start in one area of the brain, whereas generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain.
In patients experiencing epileptic seizures, almost 60% are partial-onset seizures. Partial-onset seizures are classified as "simple" or "complex."
- Simple partial-onset seizures do not cause a loss of awareness, but they may produce abnormal sensations, such as a funny feeling (an aura), an unpleasant smell, or a body movement, such as a jerking of the arm
- Complex partial-onset seizures can cause loss of awareness, confusion, staring, and certain movements like hand rubbing, lip smacking, arm positioning, or uncontrolled shouting or swallowing
- Partial-onset seizures with secondary generalization: Seizures of this kind start in one area of the brain. The forms they take vary as much as other partial seizures. But then (sometimes so quickly that the partial seizure is hardly noticed) the seizure spreads throughout the brain, becoming "generalized," and may cause a convulsive seizure (tonic-clonic seizure). These seizures are called "secondarily generalized" because they only become generalized after the initial or "primary" event, a partial seizure, has already begun. They happen when a burst of electrical activity in one area spreads throughout the brain. Sometimes the person does not recall the first part of the seizure
Giving the neurologist an accurate description of your partial-onset seizures is important to better understand these events and gain control. Having this understanding will assist the neurologist in determining the appropriate treatment and in helping you achieve additional seizure control. Learn about the role caregivers can play as part of your health care team.
PARTIAL-ONSET SEIZURES AND ME
Mark thinks back to his very first partial-onset seizure. He was at work, and a “sickening” feeling of déjà vu suddenly overpowered him. "It disturbed me so much that I couldn't even talk about déjà vu for a while," he says.
Not all seizures are created equal
Partial-onset seizures come in many shapes. And spotting them is the first step to getting treatment.
A gelastic seizure, for example, from the Greek word for laughter, can cause an unexplained outburst of hilarity. Then there are repeated motions called automatisms, like stroking the hair for minutes at a time, which can be caused by partial-onset seizures. Spontaneous crying or a feeling of sudden overpowering fear can also be related to a partial-onset seizure. There are partial seizures that even cause people to have profound sensations of oneness or connection with the world.
Give your doctor as much information as possible
If you or your loved ones think you might be having partial-onset seizures, ask your doctor about the best course of action. Write down when and where each episode happens. Were there any trigger conditions beforehand? If possible, have someone take a video of the episode to bring along to your next doctor visit.
Mark sought out treatment for his partial-onset seizures that he experiences as strong feelings of déjà vu. With the help of VIMPAT, he is able to reduce his partial-onset seizures: "You'll never know how glad I am that VIMPAT has been able to help."
VIMPAT may not be for everyone. Ask your doctor if VIMPAT is right for you.
LEARNING TO TRUST MYSELF
Raising her voice above the salsa beat, Lydia S. tells her beginners’ class to set inhibitions aside. "Your feet have a mind of their own!" she says, laughing. "Listen to your body and take control of it." Lydia knows a thing or two about hearing the body’s subtle messages. She’s also learned the importance of control—both on and off the dance floor—because for most of her life, Lydia performed a careful dance with epilepsy.
Lydia recalls her first seizure, although at the time she had no idea that the nausea and “heavy feeling” in her mouth were caused by epilepsy. She just thought she was sick to her stomach. “I remember going to the bathroom and waking up in the hospital surrounded by doctors and my mom,” she explains. Over the next 20 years, Lydia experienced thousands of similar incidents before finally learning that these odd sensations were complex partial seizures, which would often happen before turning into more intense secondarily generalized seizures.
Partial seizures are often tricky to diagnose. They present themselves in a variety of ways that affect various parts of the body but may not look like the full-blown convulsions most commonly associated with epilepsy. Lip smacking or other abnormal and repetitive mouth movements, numbness or tingling, hallucinations, changes in vision, sensations of déjà vu, and shifts in mood or emotions can all be the effects of a partial seizure. "At first my mom thought I was just being a difficult, moody teen," Lydia says. "And even after the doctor diagnosed me with epilepsy, we didn’t understand much about my condition." The doctor prescribed antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), but they didn't give her the seizure control she was looking for.
However, Lydia was raised to "follow doctor’s orders" and not to question. She thought there wasn’t anything else she could do. Over the years, she lost hope and started to believe that the level of control she had gained was the best she could do.
Then, when Lydia was 30 years old, at a routine visit to her gynecologist, she mentioned her partial-onset seizures were more severe during her menstrual cycle. Her doctor listened with interest and referred her to an epileptologist. On her first visit to this epilepsy specialist, Lydia was impressed with her new doctor’s approach. "He asked me exactly what I felt when my mouth felt heavy and if I had sensations anywhere else," she says. "He really listened to everything I said."
Lydia realized that many of the odd sensations she felt were partial seizures. Carrying a small notebook with her at all times, she began to document the subtle changes in her body. "This was the first time I really focused on my body," she says. "I learned to listen to what it was trying to tell me."
Lydia shared her seizure journal with her doctor and together they began to explore options for additional seizure control. As it turned out, she was a candidate for brain surgery, and while the procedure meant that she got her tonic-clonic seizures under control, her partial-onset seizures were still occurring. With the help of her epileptologist, Lydia added VIMPAT to her current antiepileptic medication to help treat her ongoing partial-onset seizures. Thankfully, VIMPAT helped to reduce her simple and complex partial seizures significantly.
With improved partial-onset seizure control, Lydia likes to share her journey with others. Lydia works in a hospital neurology department as a technician and certified bilingual interpreter where she uses her experience to help patients diagnosed with epilepsy. "It’s so important to understand your body and to document unusual sensations that occur because these might be seizures or at least give your doctor clues about your epilepsy."
She encourages patients to work with an epilepsy specialist and be open and honest about their seizures. "There have been a lot of new epilepsy medications and treatments that have become available over the years," she says. "But unless you are willing to try them, you won’t know if a medication might work for you."
Thirty years ago, Lydia didn’t think she’d have the partial-onset seizure control she now enjoys. As she stands in front of her dance students, her encouragement to them is similar to the guidance she gives other epilepsy patients. "You have to become aware of what you’re doing," she says. "The only way to improve is to understand your body."
Vimpat® (lacosamide) is a prescription medicine that is used with other medicines to treat partial-onset seizures in people 17 years of age and older with epilepsy.
Important Safety Information
Vimpat may not be for everyone. Ask your healthcare provider if Vimpat is right for you.
Warnings and Precautions
Antiepileptic drugs, including Vimpat, may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people, about 1 in 500. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have new or worsening symptoms of depression, any unusual changes in mood or behavior, or suicidal thoughts, behavior, or thoughts about self harm that you have never had before or may be worse than before.
Do not stop taking VIMPAT without first talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping Vimpat suddenly can cause serious problems. Stopping seizure medicine suddenly in a patient who has epilepsy can cause seizures that will not stop.
Vimpat may also cause you to feel dizzy, have double vision, feel sleepy, or have problems with coordination and walking. You should not drive, operate machinery or do other dangerous activities until you know how Vimpat affects you.
Vimpat may cause you to have an irregular heartbeat or may cause you to feel faint. Call your healthcare provider if you have a fast, slow, or pounding heartbeat, shortness of breath, feel lightheaded, or if you fainted or feel like you are going to faint.
Vimpat is a federally controlled substance (C-V) because it can be abused or lead to drug dependence. Keep your Vimpat in a safe place to protect it from theft. Do not give it to anyone else, because it may harm them.
In rare cases, Vimpat may cause a serious allergic reaction that may affect your skin or other parts of your body such as your liver or blood cells. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have a skin rash or hives, fever or swollen glands that do not go away, shortness of breath, swelling of the legs, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, or dark urine.
Before taking Vimpat, tell your healthcare provider if you have or have had depression, mood problems, or suicidal thoughts or behavior; have heart, kidney or liver problems; have abused prescription medicines, street drugs or alcohol in the past, are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
Vimpat® oral solution contains aspartame, a source of phenylalanine.
Common Adverse Reactions
In clinical trials, the most common side effects seen with Vimpat were dizziness, headache, nausea, and double vision.
Talk to your healthcare provider about other possible side effects with VIMPAT. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Please see additional patient information in the Patient Medication Guide. This information does not take the place of talking with your healthcare provider about your condition or your treatment.