Understanding partial-onset seizures

Knowing is helping. If you care for someone who is living with epilepsy, you want to know what you’re dealing with (and what their doctor is talking about). These articles can help.

Get the facts about partial-onset seizures

What are they? And can they be controlled?

While tonic-clonic seizures (also known as grand mal) are the most recognized, more than half of people with epilepsy have partial-onset seizures.

Partial-onset seizures are different from generalized seizures because they start in only one side of the brain. They come in many forms and can be harder to spot. Some people experiencing partial-onset seizures may not even recognize that they're having seizures.

Complex partial seizures impair consciousness or can cause some people to lose consciousness entirely. People experiencing one may appear "spaced out" for a moment, or have repetitive behavior such as picking at their clothes or smacking their lips.

Simple partial seizures can be even more subtle. While the person cannot control the seizure itself, he or she remains aware that something is going on. For example, simple partial seizures might cause an involuntary movement of the leg, an occasional sense of déjà vu, or the perception of an odor that isn’t really there.

“My first seizure started with the feeling of déjà vu. I didn’t realize it was a seizure, but it was. It was a simple partial seizure. That was the beginning of my realization that I had epilepsy.”

— Mark A., currently taking VIMPAT for partial-onset seizures

Partial-onset seizures can sometimes generalize and spread across the entire brain, often resulting in a convulsive seizure.

This type of seizure is called a secondarily generalized partial-onset seizure.

If you or a loved one has succeeded in controlling generalized seizures, you might think living with a few partial seizures is “good enough.” But you may be able to reduce the number of partial-onset seizures you are having, too.

“Your doctors are there to help you. But you have to take that first step. You have to be the one to say, ‘I want more.’”

— Rick S., currently taking VIMPAT for partial-onset seizures

A caregiver’s guide

This checklist can help you collect the right information for your loved one’s doctor.

As a caregiver, your observations can provide your loved one’s neurologist with an important perspective. Use this checklist to remind you what you should be looking for and the patterns you should be noting. Consider writing down what you observe in a journal and sharing the journal with your loved one’s healthcare team.

  • Is there a pattern to your loved one’s recent seizures? (Be sure to think of any changes in the number of seizures, their duration, or what the seizure looks like. Bring video if possible.)
  • What events or activities precede your loved one’s seizures? (Frequent triggers include lack of sleep, stress, hunger, thirst, strobe or fluorescent lighting, TV or computer use, alcohol, and fatigue.)
  • Are the current antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) providing partial-onset seizure control? Tell the doctor the number of seizures your loved one is still having and the types of seizures he or she is still having.
  • Is your loved one experiencing possible side effects of the current AEDs? Tell the doctor what they are.
  • Do you want to learn more about other add-on AED options?
  • Do you have any questions since your last visit?

Looking for more topics to discuss with the doctor? Together with your loved one, use our Neurologist Discussion Guide to create a customized list of questions to print and bring to the doctor.

What is VIMPAT?

VIMPAT is a prescription medicine that can be used alone or with other medicines to treat partial-onset seizures in people 17 years of age and older.

What is the most important information I should know about VIMPAT?

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 can cause serious side effects, including:

1.Like other antiepileptic drugs, VIMPAT may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people, about 1 in 500.


Call a healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you:

  • thoughts about suicide or dying
  • attempt to commit suicide
  • new or worse depression
  • new or worse anxiety
  • feeling agitated or restless
  • panic attacks
  • trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • new or worse irritability
  • acting aggressive, being angry, or violent
  • acting on dangerous impulses
  • an extreme increase in activity and talking (mania)
  • other unusual changes in behavior or mood

2.VIMPAT may cause you to feel dizzy, have double vision, feel sleepy, or have problems with coordination and walking. Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or do other dangerous activities until you know how VIMPAT affects you.

3.VIMPAT may cause you to have an irregular heartbeat or may cause you to faint. Call your healthcare provider if you have:

  • fast, slow, or pounding heartbeat
  • shortness of breath
  • feel lightheaded
  • fainted or if you feel like you are going to faint

4.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. Never give your VIMPAT to anyone else, because it may harm them.

What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking VIMPAT?

Before you take VIMPAT, tell your healthcare provider, if you:

  • have or have had depression, mood problems or suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • have heart problems
  • have kidney problems
  • have liver problems
  • have abused prescription medicines, street drugs or alcohol in the past
  • have any other medical problems
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

What are the possible side effects of VIMPAT?

See “What is the most important information I should know about VIMPAT?”.

VIMPAT may cause other serious side effects including:

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, 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.

The most common side effects of VIMPAT include:

  • dizziness
  • headache
  • double vision
  • nausea

These are not all of the possible side effects of VIMPAT. For more information ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Tell your healthcare provider about any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. Call your healthcare provider for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects to UCB, Inc. at UCBCares (1-844-599-CARE [2273]).

Please see additional patient information in the Medication Guide. This information does not take the place of talking with your healthcare provider about your condition or your treatment. For more information, go to www.vimpat.com or call 1-844-599-2273.

Contact Information

If you have any questions or want more information, please contact UCBCares at 1-844-599-CARE (2273) or UCBCares@UCB.com. We're here to help.

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