A medical research study done using an app developed for the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Apple Watch has revealed that a lack of adequate sleep and stress are the causative factors leading to seizures in epileptic patients. The app, EpiWatch, is used to track seizures, the use of prescribed drugs and any side effects such drugs may have on a patient.

Participants in the study were required to open the EpiWatch app every time they sensed they were about to get a seizure. The app then used sensors of the Apple Watch to record the heart movement and the heart rate of the patient for about ten minutes. Participating patients also took a survey after the end of the seizure.

Stress a major trigger

When broken down the results of the study showed that in 37% of the seizures, stress was the trigger. Inadequate sleep was responsible for 18% of the seizures while over-exertion and menstruation were responsible for 11% and 12% of the seizures respectively.

For individuals engaged in full-time work, stress was an even bigger trigger in comparison to the unemployed or those who held part-time jobs. In this instance, 35% of full-time workers reported stress as a trigger for epilepsy in comparison to 27% of unemployed individuals and 21% of part-time job holders.

“Seizures are very unpredictable. Our eventual goal is to be able to use wearable technology to predict an oncoming seizure. This could potentially save lives as well as give people with epilepsy more freedom,” Gregory Krauss, who is based at the Johns Hopkins University and the author of the study said.

Other triggers

According to the study, other triggers of the epileptic seizures included infections, fevers, failing to take medication and diet. The information gathered from the study will help medical scientists to improve their understanding of epilepsy. It will also help epileptic patients keep a record of their fits and seizures.


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Approximately 598 epileptic patients were involved in the voluntary study. Results of the study will be formally presented in Boston at an annual gathering of neurologists.