Forecasting seizure likelihood from cycles of self-reported events and heart rate: a prospective pilot study


Seizure risk forecasting could reduce injuries and even deaths in people with epilepsy. There is great interest in using non-invasive wearable devices to generate forecasts of seizure risk. Forecasts based on cycles of epileptic activity, seizure times or heart rate have provided promising forecasting results. This study validates a forecasting method using multimodal cycles recorded from wearable devices.

Seizure and heart rate cycles were extracted from 13 participants. The mean period of heart rate data from a smartwatch was 562 days, with a mean of 125 self-reported seizures from a smartphone app. The relationship between seizure onset time and phases of seizure and heart rate cycles was investigated. An additive regression model was used to project heart rate cycles. The results of forecasts using seizure cycles, heart rate cycles, and a combination of both were compared. Forecasting performance was evaluated in 6 of 13 participants in a prospective setting, using long-term data collected after algorithms were developed.

The results showed that the best forecasts achieved a mean area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.73 for 9/13 participants showing performance above chance during retrospective validation. Subject-specific forecasts evaluated with prospective data showed a mean AUC of 0.77 with 4/6 participants showing performance above chance.

The results of this study demonstrate that cycles detected from multimodal data can be combined within a single, scalable seizure risk forecasting algorithm to provide robust performance. The presented forecasting method enabled seizure risk to be estimated for an arbitrary future period and could be generalised across a range of data types. In contrast to earlier work, the current study evaluated forecasts prospectively, in subjects blinded to their seizure risk outputs, representing a critical step towards clinical applications.

This study was funded by an Australian Government National Health & Medical Research Council and BioMedTech Horizons grant. The study also received support from the Epilepsy Foundation of America’s ‘My Seizure Gauge’ grant.


Wenjuan Xiong, Rachel E. Stirling, Daniel E. Payne, Ewan S. Nurse, Tatiana Kameneva, Mark J. Cook, Pedro F. Viana, Mark P. Richardson, Benjamin H. Brinkmann, Dean R. Freestone, and Philippa J. Karoly.

Published on 17 June 2023

The Lancet EBioMedicine

Access: Open

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