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Adrenaline & seizures

Updated April 17, 2017

Adrenalin is sometimes known as epinephrine and is a hormone secreted by the adrenal medulla in the brain. It is also a central nervous system neurotransmitter that is released by neurons. The release of adrenalin can be linked with seizures.

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Expert Insight

Neurologist Mark Spitz, director of the University of Colorado Epilepsy Center, says during seizures "a lot of adrenalin is released."

He believes this to be true, he says, because many people with a history of seizures who have died suddenly show signs of irregular heart rhythms and other heart injuries. The sudden release of adrenalin during seizures puts increased pressure on the circulatory system and can result in heart damage.


Sudden unexplained death in epilepsy, shortened as SUDEP, is used to categorise the medical phenomenon that affects a small number of people. Less than 1 in 1,000 who have epilepsy die from this condition, according to the Mayo Clinic.


While individuals in forums on sites such as Epilepsy.com raise questions about adrenalin as a cause of seizures, the Mayo Clinic's site does not list adrenalin specifically as a known cause. However, health sites, like Epilepsy Action, state stress can trigger a seizure, which then can result in large amounts of adrenalin releasing into the body.

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About the Author

Scott Wolfenden began writing in 2006 on the subject of mental health. He has written a book on ADHD, children's mental health, education and parenting partially based on experience teaching in public schools. He blogs for Learning Things, an educational products website. He graduated from Thomas Edison State College with a Bachelor of Arts in social science and additional coursework in psychology.

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