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Funny Turns in an Elderly Man

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A 74-year old man presented with recurrent attacks of altered sensorium, sometimes with abrupt falls, against the background of a long history of chronic obstructive airways disease and ischaemic heart disease. Investigations revealed evidence of significant cardiac conduction abnormalities and this led to the insertion of a permanent pacemaker. However, he continued to have recurrent ‘syncopal’ attacks. He was hospitalized to clarify the nature and aetiology of these attacks. Multiple stereotyped events were observed by different medical personnel, lasting up to two hours in duration. An attack was terminated by the administration of intravenous diazepam. Subsequent initiation of anti-epileptic drugs led to the complete abolition of these episodes. He has remained event-free since then ie two years. Because of multiple co-morbidities, the elderly present a greater diagnostic challenge in the evaluation of paroxysmal alterations in sensorium. It is essential that epilepsy, particularly with non-convulsive seizures, be included in the differential diagnosis whenever evaluating these patients.

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e-Published: 03 Jul, 2013
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