J Clin Neurol.  2021 Jul;17(3):393-399. 10.3988/jcn.2021.17.3.393.

Increasing Trends in the Incidence and Prevalence of Epilepsy in Korea

  • 1Department of Neurology, Kyungpook National University Chilgok Hospital, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea
  • 2School of Pharmacy, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Korea
  • 3Samsung Advanced Institute for Health Science & Technology (SAIHST), Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Korea
  • 4Department of Neurology, Soonchunhyang University Bucheon Hospital, Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine, Bucheon, Korea
  • 5Department of Neurology, College of Medicine, Kangwon National University Chuncheon, Korea
  • 6Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Medical Bigdata Convergence, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, Korea
  • 7Department of Neurology, Chungnam National University College of Medicine, Daejeon, Korea


Background and Purpose
There have been few reports on recent trends in the occurrence of epilepsy. The aim of this study was to estimate the incidence and prevalence of epilepsy and analyze their annual trends in Korea over the period 2009–2017.
This nationwide population-based study was carried out using the National Health Insurance Service of Korea database. A prevalent case was defined as one of a patient receiving a prescription of anticonvulsants under the diagnostic codes for epilepsy or seizure. An incident case was ascertained by confirming the absence of any epilepsy-related diagnostic codes and anticonvulsant prescription for 2 years or more before the operational definition for a prevalent case was met. Alternative operational definitions for epilepsy were tested. The temporal trends of the incidence and prevalence of epilepsy were analyzed using a Poisson regression model, and are expressed as average annual percentage changes (AAPCs).
The incidence of epilepsy increased from 28.7/100,000 persons in 2009 to 35.4/100,000 persons in 2017. The prevalence increased gradually from 3.4/1,000 persons in 2009 to 4.8/1,000 persons in 2017. These increasing trends were more evident among elderly subjects aged ≥75 years and in those who had codes for epilepsy or seizure as an additional diagnosis. Age standardization revealed a less prominent but still increasing trend in both incidence (AAPC=0.48%) and prevalence (AAPC=3.11%).
There have been increasing trends in both the prevalence and incidence of epilepsy in Korea between 2009 and 2017. This finding appears to be related to societal aging and the high incidence of symptomatic epilepsy in the elderly population.


epilepsy; epidemiology; incidence; prevalence; trend
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