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Six-Month Effects of Modified Atkins Diet Implementation on Indices of Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Adults with Epilepsy


Ketogenic diet therapies (KDTs) offer a needed therapeutic option for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. The current study investigated biochemical and anthropometric indices of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in adults with epilepsy treated with KDT over 6 months.


65 adults with epilepsy naïve to diet therapy were enrolled in a prospective longitudinal study and instructed on modified Atkins diet (MAD) use. Seizure frequency, anthropometric measures, blood levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, apolipoproteins A1 and B, and lipoprotein sub-fractions were assessed at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months.


Subsequent to study enrollment, 34 participants were lost to follow-up, elected not to start, or stopped MAD prior to study completion, leaving a total of 31 participants in the study at 6 months. Compared to baseline, participants on MAD showed significant reductions in median seizure frequency/week, weight, body mass index, waist and hip circumference, and percent body fat at 3 and 6 months. Compared to baseline, participants on MAD for 3 months showed significantly increased levels of total, small and medium LDL particles, ApoB and ApoB/A1 ratio. At 6 months, only small LDL particles and ApoB levels remained elevated and levels of ApoA1 had risen, suggesting possible compensatory adaptation over time.


This study provides evidence demonstrating the efficacy and cardiovascular safety of 6 months of MAD use by adults with epilepsy. It also highlights an index of CVD risk – small LDL particles – that should be closely monitored.

Trial registration: identifier: NCT02694094.

Authors: Tanya J.W. McDonald, Luisa Diaz-Arias, Diane Vizthum, Bobbie J. Henry-Barron, Haley Schlechter, Eric H. Kossoff, & Mackenie C. Cervenka

Original Published online: 23 Jan 2021