Sudden expected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is characterized by the abrupt, unforeseen death of a healthy person diagnosed with epilepsy from a life-threatening seizure (via Healthline). Per every 1,000 people living with epilepsy, there are an estimated 1.16 SUDEP cases that take place annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those who experienced seizures starting at a young age, have a history of recurring seizures, or have a medical history of epilepsy may be more susceptible to SUDEP. Males, those who experience nocturnal seizures, as well as people who sleep positioned on their stomach, may also be more prone to SUDEP, particularly if their breathing is hindered by lying face down on a pillow (via The New York Times). ABC News reported that Boyce had died while sleeping.
“Researchers are still working to understand SUDEP,” neurologist and epilepsy specialist Dr. Suzette LaRoche told HCA Healthcare. “We know that the majority of these cases occur during sleep. It can happen to anyone but people with uncontrolled Grand Mal seizures are at highest risk, especially if the seizures occur at night.” Now medically referred to as tonic-clonic seizures, these seizures involve severe muscle contractions and temporary loss of consciousness, per the Mayo Clinic.