Epilepsy: The Medical Condition That Caused Cameron Boyce’s Untimely Death
Cameron Boyce’s parents revealed late Tuesday night that the 20-year-old actor died from a seizure that was caused by the medical condition epilepsy, PEOPLE reports. He was found unresponsive in his home on Saturday, and pronounced dead.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that’s characterised by seizures, which are sudden surges of electrical activity in the brain, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. Not everyone who experiences seizures is necessarily diagnosed with the condition, but about one in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime. The reasons why some people get epilepsy vary; the condition can be genetic, or come out of a change in brain structure.
There are many different types of seizures that people with epilepsy can have, and the symptoms are not always the same. Due to the spike of activity in the brain, some people may experience rhythmic jerking movements for extended periods of time, as well as weak, tense, or rigid muscles. When most people think of seizures, they typically picture something called “epileptic spasms,” in which someone’s body flexes and extends repeatedly. Less-obvious symptoms of a seizure can also include changes in mood and emotion, goosebumps, heart-racing, or “behaviour arrest,” which simply means someone stops moving. Seizures can be triggered by known stimuli or situations (such as flashing lights or sleep deprivation), and other times they happen seemingly randomly.
The unfortunate reality of epilepsy is that some people can die from the condition, sometimes suddenly. About 1 in 1,000 people who have epilepsy will die from “sudden unexpected death in epilepsy,” aka SUDEP, annually. When someone with epilepsy has a seizure, there are intense changes that occur to the brain, heart, and lung functioning, which can lead to death, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. In many cases of SUDEP, people are found face-down in bed, with other signs that a seizure occurred.
Luckily, epilepsy can be managed with anti-seizure medications and lifestyle changes, such as altering your diet. The goal of treatment is essentially to prevent seizures from happening. In the wake of Boyce’s death, many epilepsy organisations have encouraged people to be aware of the signs of seizures and be versed in seizure first aid, especially if a loved one has epilepsy.
Meanwhile, Boyce’s parents thanked fans for the “tremendous outpouring of love” in a statement to PEOPLE. “Thank you, everyone, for encircling us with your love and respect of Cameron and concern for our family,” they told PEOPLE. “He was the very definition of human kindness, and a light that will forever shine as his spirit lives on in all who knew and loved him. He was the rock of our family and he always had a positive, heartwarming, insightful and caring outlook on everything and everyone.”
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