Epilepsy is a tendency to have recurrent seizures (epileptic fits). Between 1 and 2 percent of the population have epilepsy. There are different types of epileptic fit, but a particular sufferer will usually have the same type of fit each time they have a fit. The frequency of fits can vary from once a year to many times a day. Most epileptic fits stop spontaneously within minutes. Occassionally prolonged fits occur (status epilepticus) with a risk of death or permanent brain damage. However death is more likely from an accident occuring because of an epileptic fit impairing consciousness than from the fit itself. For this reason epileptics in some territories are not allowed to drive and operate some other machinery unless the fits are prevented by treatment, usually regular tablets. Treatment can usually reduce the frequency of fits, but may not stop them completely.
Epilepsy caused 0.2% of all deaths worldwide in 2002, an average of 20 deaths per million people per year.
The highest rate of death in 2002 was 82 deaths per million people in Angola. In the data here, the whole of Africa has
exceptionally high rates of death due to epilepsy, which may refect the risks of lack of treatment rather than a higher prevalence of epilepsy.