Why All Parents With Children on the Ketogenic Diet Should Consider Using PulseGuard™ – Even if They are Seizure Free

The Ketogenic diet has been around since the 1921 when Dr.Russel Wilder, MD, of the Mayo Clinic discovered it as a potential treatment for drug resistant epilepsy.

Studies show that the Ketogenic diet, a high-fat, low carbohydrate, controlled protein and calorie-restricted diet used to treat epileptic seizures in children, alters genes involved in energy metabolism in the brain. Which in turn helps stabilize the function of neurons exposed to the challenges of epileptic seizures, thus controlling seizure activity and in some cases eliminating seizures altogether.

This has been hugely successful for hundreds of thousand’s of patient’s worldwide, who have Intractable Epilepsy (drug resistant) and have typically tried at least two anti-epileptic medications in the past and found that they were unable to control their seizure activity.

And whilst it is certainly not an easy option of treatment due to the strict food restrictions and careful weighing and monitoring of everything eaten daily, (which for children especially who want to eat the same as their friends and siblings can be extremely challenging). 

However, the potential benefits outweigh the negatives and families quickly learn how to adapt to the Keto lifestyle incorporating fun and interesting recipes that the whole family can enjoy. (visit: http://www.matthewsfriends.org/keto-kitchen/keto-recipes/ for some fabulous recipe ideas)

Selinium Deficiancy Signs & Symptoms
Hair and Nail loss or Brittleness
Skin rashes and Lesions
Increased fatigue and irritability
Nausea and Diarrhea
Slow Heart Rate
Nervous System abnormalities

But as with any treatment the Ketogenic diet also comes with it’s risks.
Two common complications related to the Ketogenic diet are Selenium Deficiency, which has been associated with the onset of specific Heart Conditions, (impaired myocardial function, and QT prolongation)  Which in some cases can lead to a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. 

(read more about clinical effects on the heart with the Ketogenic Diet here 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/19027591/ )

This is why children on the Ketogenic diet are carefully monitored by a Specialist Consultant and Dietician and have frequent blood tests so that any abnormalities can be quickly detected and if need be, the child can then be weaned from the diet or have their diet modified to reverse the effects.

But what happens if these symptoms occur in-between routine appointments.

As a parent would you know how to detect QT Prolongation? and what even is QT Prolongation?

Well in simple terms QT Prolongation is where the gap between each heart beat widens, causing an extremely slow heart rate (Bradycardia) which if undetected and untreated could lead to heart failure (impaired myocardial function) and eventually the heart would become too tired and weak to pump and stop beating completely (Cardiac Arrest).

So how doesPulseGuard™ help?

PulseGuard™ is a wireless heart rate monitor developed to detect and alert to seizures but also a sudden change to the heart rate.

So for patients who are currently on the Ketogenic diet (even if they are seizure free) PulseGuard™ would continuously monitor their heart rate and if the heart rate started to suddenly slow down (due to QT Prolongation associated with Selinium Deficiancy) it would alert the parents immediately and record all of the data, so that the parents could contact their specialist at the very first sign of possible Selinium Deficiancy and send their specialist the data directly via their PulseGuard™ monitor, allowing them to study the new heart rate data against their child’s normal heart rate parameters recorded in the previous appointments and ensure that an emergency appointment can be scheduled quickly to investigate the possibility of Selenium Deficiancy and reverse any Cardiac Impairment, preventing the risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

Clinical studies suggest (as detailed in the link below) that approx 20% of children on the Ketogenic diet will experience some form of Selinium deficiancy at some point in their journey.


And whilst it can be easy to treat with additional supplements, it is important to be aware of any signs and symptoms quickly, so that treatment can be administered straight away to help prevent any potential ongoing health issues or impact their success on the diet.

For more information on PulseGuard™ please email sales@pulseguard.org

For more information on the Ketogenic Diet please visit:

The Daisy Garland http://www.thedaisygarland.org.uk


Matthews Friends http://www.matthewsfriends.org

Author Info

Kate Farmer

Senior Clinical Advisor for PulseGuard International Ltd. I have 15 years experience working frontline A&E in the UK NHS Ambulance Service. I have gone on to train and research extensively around epilepsy, to provide the most up to date information, clinical advice and support to PulseGuard customers and followers as well as living first hand with the personal effects of Dravet Syndrome within my family

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