Risk of COVID-19 Infection and of Severe Complications Among People With Epilepsy: A Nationwide Cohort Study

Joonsang Yoo, Jee Hyun Kim, Jimin Jeon, Jinkwon Kim, Tae Jin Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background and ObjectivesThe goal of this work was to evaluate whether patients with epilepsy were more susceptible to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection and at greater risk of severe complications when infected with COVID-19 compared with patients without epilepsy.MethodsWe included participants who underwent at least 1 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 real-time reverse-transcription PCR test between January 1 and June 4, 2020, from the Korean nationwide COVID-19 dataset. Epilepsy was defined according to the presence of diagnostic code in health claims data before the COVID-19 diagnosis. To investigate the association between epilepsy and the susceptibility for or severe complications of COVID-19, a 1:6 ratio propensity score matching (PSM) and logistic regression analysis were performed. Severe complications with COVID-19 infection were defined as a composite of the incidence of mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit admission, and death within 2 months after COVID-19 diagnosis.ResultsAmong 212,678 study participants who underwent a COVID-19 test, 3,919 (1.8%) had a history of epilepsy. After PSM, there was no significant difference in COVID-19 PCR positivity according to epilepsy history (odds ratio [OR] 0.86, 95% CI 0.67-1.11). Of the 7,713 individuals with confirmed COVID-19 infection, 72 (0.9%) had a history of epilepsy. Among the patients with COVID-19, severe complications occurred in 444 (5.8%) individuals. After PSM, the presence of epilepsy was associated with the occurrence of severe complications after COVID-19 infection (OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.04-4.04). Mortality after COVID-19 infection did not differ according to the presence of epilepsy history (OR 1.55, 95% CI 0.65-3.70).DiscussionThe presence of epilepsy was not associated with increased susceptibility to COVID-19 infection or mortality related to the infection. However, there was an increased risk of severe complications with COVID-19 in patients with epilepsy; therefore, careful management and monitoring may be necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1886-E1892
Issue number19
StatePublished - 10 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2020R1I1A1A01060447 to J.K., NRF-2021R1F1A1048113 to T.-J.S.).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 American Academy of Neurology.


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