Triathlete Triumphs Over Epilepsy

Like its name suggests, the Ironman Triathlon is a race for only the most extraordinary, iron-willed athletes. The grueling individual endurance event begins with a 2.4-mile swim, is followed by a 112-mile bike race and culminates in a 26.2-mile run.

Between April and October of 2005, Mark Ashby completed the Ironman Arizona and the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, in addition to five half-Ironman triathlons. In two of the half-Ironman competitions, Mark placed second and third in his age division. However, Mark, 42, also had an additional hurdle many of his fellow top athletes did not have to overcome-one that had abruptly ended his career earlier in life.

Twenty-four years ago, Mark was an active-duty U.S. Marine when he suffered from several seizures that resulted in a diagnosis of epilepsy. Epilepsy is a neurological condition that makes people susceptible to seizures, which are temporary disturbances in the electrical activity of the brain. While there is no cure, more than 2.7 million people in the United States live with epilepsy and for many of them, taking anti-epileptic medication is an effective way to control their seizures.

Mark first began treatment with a drug that prevented his seizures, but also caused significant side effects. Mark says he felt “at the bottom of the bottom.” He lost his ability to physically train and his Marine Corps career ended with a medical discharge. “My life was a tough road those days,” he says.

Three years ago, a doctor who understood Mark’s desire for an active lifestyle prescribed Carbatrol for him because he had seen positive results in other patients and felt Mark might benefit from the treatment as well. Mark says he immediately noticed a major difference in himself with the drug. “When I take my medication as directed, I’m seizure free, but even more important to me, I’m also side-effect free,” Mark said. The Carbatrol Full Prescribing Information, available at, states that the most common side effects are dizziness, drowsiness, unsteadiness, nausea and vomiting.

With regular twice-a-day dosing of Carbatrol, Mark says that he’s able to confidently compete in intense athletic events like the Ironman without worrying as much about having a seizure.

“I depend on it,” Mark says of Carbatrol.

This patient testimonial reflects one man’s experience with epilepsy and his treatment with Carbatrol. Patients on anti-epileptic drugs may experience breakthrough seizures. This information is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Patients are advised to consult with their physician before beginning any medical treatment for epilepsy.

For more information on epilepsy or treatment with Carbatrol, visit

Carbatrol contains carbamazepine. If you are currently taking another medication that contains carbamazepine, do not begin taking Carbatrol without discussing this with your healthcare provider.

If you are taking any other medications, including oral contraceptives, over-the-counter medications or herbal products, be sure to inform your healthcare provider, as carbamazepine can interact with other medications.

Carbatrol was generally well tolerated in clinical studies. The most common side effects, particularly when first starting on Carbatrol, were dizziness, drowsiness, unsteadiness, nausea and vomiting.

Contact your healthcare provider if you have any unexplained bruising, fever or infection. Products that contain carbamazepine have been associated with rare but serious types of blood disorders.

People with a history of bone marrow problems, or who are allergic to carbamazepine, or who are sensitive to tricyclic antidepressants, should not take Carbatrol.

Certain types of seizures (absence seizures or petit mal) do not appear to be controlled by carbamazepine.

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