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The bad news is that India has 10-15 million epilepsy patients. But the good news is that the problem can be controlled in 80 percent cases. 'Eighty percent of the patients can be treated with medicines,' said B.S. Sharma, head of the department of neurosurgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). He said the remaining could be treated with surgery, and 70-80 percent of the surgeries show 'good results'.
Sharma was speaking along with policy makers and other medical experts at an event at the AIIMS complex in Delhi. R.C. Mishra, another expert in neurosciences, told the gathering that some 5,000 Indians became patients of epilepsy every year. 'It is a pity that so many myths about epilepsy have persisted for so long. The fact is that epilepsy and insanity can't be linked,' he said.
K.K. Turel, president of the Neurological Society of India, stressed that patients of epilepsy needed to be very careful about their medication. 'Medicines can control epilepsy in 80 percent of the patients,' he said. 'If epilepsy is controlled, one can lead a normal life,' he added. He said doctors opted for surgery only when epilepsy persisted despite taking two to three medicines. 'Between medicines and surgery, 95 percent of all patients get relief,' he said.
A useful booklet given away on the occasion listed some of the more famous patients of epilepsy: Alfred Nobel, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Agatha Christie, Aristotle, Charles Dickens and Isaac Newton.
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