SUDEP refers to the unexplained death of an individual, with a diagnosis of epilepsy, who dies suddenly, in benign circumstances, without a structural or toxicological cause for death being found at autopsy.

It is not a condition or disease, but rather the category to which these types of unexplained deaths are assigned.

Sudden, unexpected, witnessed or unwitnessed, nontraumatic and nondrowning death in patients with epilepsy, with or without evidence for a seizure and excluding documented status epilepticus, in which postmortem examination does not reveal a toxicologic or anatomic cause for death.”  

SUDEP definition per Nashef 1997

The following sections describe our current understanding of SUDEP and may, alternatively, be viewed in its entirety as a pdf SUDEP fact sheet:


For more SUDEP information, and suggested reading material, click here.