Movement-induced heart rate changes in epileptic and non-epileptic seizures

Gisele R. De Oliveira, Francisco De Assis Aquino Gondim, Edward R. Hogan, Francisco H. Rola

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9 Scopus citations


Heart rate changes are common in epileptic and non-epileptic seizures. Previous studies have not adequately assessed the contribution of motor activity on these changes nor have evaluated them during prolonged monitoring. We retrospectively evaluated 143 seizures and auras from 76 patients admitted for video EEG monitoring. The events were classified according to the degree of ictal motor activity (severe, moderate and mild/absent) in: severe epileptic (SE, N=17), severe non-epileptic (SNE, N=6), moderate epileptic (ME, N=28), moderate non-epileptic (MNE, N=11), mild epileptic (mE, N=35), mild non-epileptic (mNE, N=33) and mild aura (aura, N=13). Heart rate increased in the ictal period in severe epileptic, severe non-epileptic, moderate epileptic and mild epileptic events (p<0.05). Heart rate returned to baseline levels during the post ictal phase in severe non-epileptic seizures but not in severe epileptic patients. Aura events had a higher baseline heart rate. A cut-off of 20% heart rate increase may distinguish moderate epileptic and mild epileptic events lasting more than 30 seconds. In epileptic seizures with mild/absent motor activity, the magnitude of heart rate increase is proportional to the event duration. Heart rate analysis in seizures with different degrees of movement during the ictal phase can help to distinguish epileptic from non-epileptic events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-791
Number of pages3
JournalArquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria
Issue number3 B
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Epileptic seizures
  • Heart rate
  • Movement
  • Non-epileptic seizures


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