The Prevalence of Epilepsy in Ireland Study, published today by Brainwave, the Irish Epilepsy Association, is the first set of accurate figures on the number of people with epilepsy in Ireland.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes the sufferer to experience recurrent seizures and blackouts and in more than half of cases no cause can be found.
And while most cases can be treated with medication, the figures also show that between 70 and 80 people die from the condition every year.
The study also found a regional discrepancy – it is more common in the Health Service Executive’s western region than the east of the country.
The research was commissioned by Brainwave, guided by an advisory committee consisting of experts in epilepsy, epidemiology and neurology and conducted by UCD’s Centre for Disability Studies.
Peter Murphy from Brainwave Ireland said the new data would help identify current and future service needs for people with epilepsy.
The study found 35,880 people with diagnosed epilepsy attended their GP for treatment and there were 442 specialist consultations ever week.
Results extrapolated from the 2007 household survey by the Central Statistics Office revealed that 31,000 cases of diagnosed epilepsy were over the age of 18.
The study also found that the number of cases increased between 2002 and 2005 – the last year data was available to analyse and the reason for the increase is not known.