BACKGROUND: In patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) without clinical seizures, up to half have epileptiform discharges on long-term in-patient electroencephalography (EEG) recordings. Long-term in-patient monitoring is obtrusive, and expensive as compared to outpatient monitoring. No studies have so far investigated if long-term outpatient EEG monitoring is able to identify epileptiform discharges in AD. Our aim is to investigate if epileptiform discharges as measured with ear-EEG are more common in patients with AD compared to healthy elderly controls (HC).
METHODS: In this longitudinal observational study, 24 patients with mild to moderate AD and 15 age-matched HC were included in the analysis. Patients with AD underwent up to three ear-EEG recordings, each lasting up to two days, within 6 months.
RESULTS: The first recording was defined as the baseline recording. At baseline, epileptiform discharges were detected in 75.0% of patients with AD and in 46.7% of HC (p-value = 0.073). The spike frequency (spikes or sharp waves/24 h) was significantly higher in patients with AD as compared to HC with a risk ratio of 2.90 (CI: 1.77-5.01, p < 0.001). Most patients with AD (91.7%) showed epileptiform discharges when combining all ear-EEG recordings.
CONCLUSIONS: Long-term ear-EEG monitoring detects epileptiform discharges in most patients with AD with a three-fold increased spike frequency compared to HC, which most likely originates from the temporal lobes. Since most patients showed epileptiform discharges with multiple recordings, elevated spike frequency should be considered a marker of hyperexcitability in AD.
- Alzheimer's disease
- Long-term EEG
- Subclinical epileptiform discharges