Glossary

A level

Advanced Level General Certificate of Education, part of the tertiary further education system [UK].

Absence seizure

A non-convulsive generalized seizure marked by the abrupt, transient loss or impairment of consciousness (usually a blank stare, not subsequently remembered).

Adenosine

A chemical important to human function.

AED

Anti-epileptic drug, used to treat seizures in epilepsy.

AIDS

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, a disease involving a severe loss of the body's cellular immunity, which greatly lowers its resistance to infection and malignancy.

Anti-epileptic

Anti-seizure.

Apnea/apnoea

Temporary cessation of breathing.

Arrhythmia

Disorder of heart rate or rhythm. 

Aspiration

Bringing foreign matter into the body upon breathing in.

Asystole

Or flatline, state in which the heart ceases to beat.

Autonomic

Pertaining to the autonomic nervous system which is the portion of the nervous system that is responsible for the unconscious regulation of vital bodily functions such as breathing and digestion.

Autopsy

Or postmortem, is the examination of a dead body to determine cause of death.

Beta blockers

A type of drug that blocks the action of the sympathetic nervous system of the heart, resulting in a relief of stress on the heart.

Bradycardia

The slowing down of the heart rate.

Capnography

The monitoring of the concentration or partial pressure of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the respiratory gases.

Cardiac repolarization

The phase of the cardiac cycle during which the electrical excitation of the heart muscle returns to the resting condition.

Cardio

Of, or relating to, the heart.

Channelopathy disease

Caused by disturbed function of ion channels or the proteins that regulate them.

CO2

Carbon Dioxide.

Combination therapy

Or, polytherapy, refers to the use of more than one drug.

Complex partial seizure

An epileptic seizure that originates in a specific area (focus) of the brain associated with impairment of consciousness.

CPR

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.

CT scan

Computerized Axial Tomography or CAT scan, a sectional view of the body constructed by x-ray computed tomography.

DBA/2 mice

Dilute Brown Non-Agouti mice (refers to coat color).

Defibrillator

An electronic device used to restore rhythm of a fibrillating heart by applying an electric shock to it.

DNA

Deoxyribonucleic Acid.

Dravet’s syndrome

Also known as Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI); a rare and catastrophic form of epilepsy for which there is currently no cure.

ECG

Electrocardiogram or EKG, records changes in electrical potential during the heartbeat.

Edema/oedema

Abnormal excess accumulation of fluid in the cavities or tissues of the body.

EEG

Electroencephalogram, a diagnostic test of brain electrical activity.

EKG

Electrocardiogram or ECG, records changes in electrical potential during the heartbeat.

Electrocerebral

Pertaining to electrical activity in the brain.

EMU

Epilepsy Monitoring Unit.

Epilepsy

A neurological condition characterized by two or more unprovoked seizures.

ER

Emergency Room.

ESN

Epilepsy Specialist Nurse.

Fibrillation

Muscular twitching involving individual muscle fibers acting without coordination.

GP, General Practitioner

Family doctor [UK].

GPRD

General Practice Research Database [UK].

GPS

Global Positioning System.

Grand mal seizures

Or tonic-clonic seizures. Generalized seizures associated with loss of consciousness that begin with the body stiffening (tonic phase) followed by rhythmic jerking (clonic phase).

HRV

Heart Rate Variability.

Hypercapnia

Presence of excess carbon dioxide in the blood.

Hypoventilation

Deficient ventilation of the lungs resulting in decreased levels of oxygen and/or increase levels of carbon dioxide content in the blood.

Hypoxemia

Deficient oxygenation of the blood.

Hypoxia

Deficiency of oxygen reaching the tissues of the body.

ICD-10

International Classification of Diseases, 10th and most recent revision.

Ictal

Relating to a seizure.

Idiopathic Epilepsy

Epilepsy arising spontaneously or from an unknown cause.

Intractable Epilepsy

Epilepsy that is not easily managed or controlled.

Ion channel

A structure in the membrane of nerve and muscle cells through which ions enter and exit the cell. In an epileptic seizure, the ion channels of the neurons of the brain are affected, so that there is a much greater outflow of ions than normal.

KCNA1 Gene

Or, potassium voltage-gated channel (KCN), shaker-related subfamily, member 1 gene.  It provides instructions for making one part (the alpha subunit) of a potassium channel called Kv1.1.

KCNH2 Gene

Or, potassium voltage-gated channel (KCN), subfamily H, member 2 gene.  It provides instructions for making potassium channels in heart muscle, which play a major role in maintaining regular heart rhythm.

KCNQ1 Gene

Or, potassium voltage-gated channel (KCN), KQT-like subfamily, member 1 gene.  It provides instructions for making potassium channels in heart muscle which play a major role in maintaining regular heart rhythm.

LQTS, Long QT Syndrome

A disorder of the heart’s electrical activity.

Medical Data Registry

Systematic collection of clearly defined health and demographic data for people with a certain health condition.

Medical Practitioner

Family doctor [US/Canada].

Mortemus

MORTality in Epilepsy Monitoring Unit Study [France].

MP

Member of Parliament [UK].

MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Neurodeficit

Neurological deficit, any defect or absence of function of a peripheral nerve or a system.

Neuron

A nerve cell.

NGO

Non government organization.

NICE

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [UK], formerly known as National Institute for Clinical Excellence

NREM

Non Rapid Eye Movement.

Oxygen saturation/desaturation

A measure of how much oxygen the blood is carrying as a percentage of the maximum it could carry (saturation); when the blood does not have enough oxygen (desaturation).

Parasympathetic nervous system

The part of the autonomic nervous system responsible for decreasing blood pressure, slowing heart rate and increasing digestion.

Petit Mal

Epilepsy characterized by absence seizures.

PGES

Postictal Generalized Electroencephalographic Suppression.

Placebo

An inert or innocuous substance.

Polytherapy

Or, ‘combination therapy’, refers to the use of more than one drug.

Postictal

Relating to the period following a seizure.

Postmortem

Or autopsy, is the examination of a dead body to determine cause of death.

Prodrome

Early symptom indicating the onset of a disease or illness.

PUFA

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids.

Pulse Oximetry

A non-invasive method of monitoring the level of oxygen in blood.

PWE

People With Epilepsy.

QCDR

Queensland Child Death Register [Australia].

QPEN

Queensland Paediatric Epilepsy Network [Australia].

QT Interval

Time interval on an electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) that represents the beginning of the heart ventricles’ contraction until the end of relaxation.

REM

Rapid Eye Movement.

Repolarization

The phase of the cardiac cycle during which the electrical excitation of the heart muscle returns to the resting condition.

SCN5A Gene

Or, sodium channel (SCN), voltage-gated, type V, alpha subunit gene.  It provides instructions for making sodium channels, which are abundant in heart muscle and play a major role in maintaining normal heart rhythm.

Serotonin

Also called 5-HT or 5-hydroxytryptamine, a neurotransmitter (substance used to transmit nerve impulses across synapses) and powerful vasoconstrictor.

SIDS

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

SIGN

Scottish Intercollegiate Guideline Network, develops evidence based clinical practice guidelines for the National Health Service in Scotland [UK].

SMR

Standardized Mortality Rate.

SSRI

Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, class of antidepressants that inhibit the inactivation of the neurotransmitter serotonin by blocking its reuptake by nerve cell endings.

Status Epilepticus

Single prolonged seizure or a series of seizures without intervening full recovery of consciousness.

SUDEP

Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy.

SUDEP Research Initiative

Research collaboration between King's College, London and SUDEP Action [UK].

Sympathetic nervous system

The part of the autonomic nervous system responsible for ‘fight or flight’ response: increased heart rate, raising blood pressure, decreasing digestion; opposite to parasympathetic nervous system.

Symptomatic Epilepsy

Epilepsy arising from a particular cause (eg brain damage).

Syncope

Or fainting, temporary loss of consciousness resulting from insufficient blood flow to the brain.

Tachyarrhythmia

Rapid irregular heartbeat.

Tachycardia

Speeding up of the heart rate.

Terminal Remission

Refers to patients still in remission (no seizures for 5 or more years) at the end of a follow-up period.

Tonic-clonic seizures

Or grand mal seizures. Generalized seizures associated with loss of consciousness that begin with the body stiffening (tonic phase) followed by rhythmic jerking (clonic phase).

Toxicology

A branch of science concerned with poisons, their nature, effects, and detection.

UCD

Underlying Cause of Death

UCL

University College London [UK].

Vagus nerve

The tenth cranial nerve and part of the autonomic nervous system.

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)

A procedure involving external stimulation of the vagus nerve which can lead to an improvement of some forms of epilepsy.

Verbal Autopsy

Is a method of ascertaining cause of death from the collection of information regarding symptoms, signs and circumstances preceding death obtained from the deceased's caretakers and witnesses present.

VNS

Vagal Nerve Stimulation.

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