Department of Neurology, University of Munich, Germany
Ictal heart rate was investigated in otherwise subclinical epileptic seizures to test the hypothesis as to whether ictal tachycardia is physiological and not a physical or psychological stress response. In addition, we aimed to evaluate the localizing significance of pure ictal tachycardia. We included 21 epilepsy patients, who showed an ictal EEG seizure pattern during 22, otherwise subclinical seizures. All patients underwent ictal video-EEG recordings to evaluate the possibility of resective epilepsy surgery. The changes in heart rate in these patients were investigated in order to determine their relationship to localization and duration of EEG seizure patterns. Ictal tachycardia was observed in 41% of the otherwise subclinical seizures (nine out of 22), and significantly more often in seizures arising from the temporal lobe than from extratemporal regions (62% versus 11%, p < 0.0018). The seizure duration as defined by EEG was significantly positively correlated with an increase of heart rate (p = 0.043). Ictal heart rate can increase as a result of epileptic activation of autonomic cortex, reflecting a temporal lobe autonomic influence. Thus, measurement of heart rate should be included in the evaluation of otherwise subclinical epileptic seizures, because of its localizing value.