Can Gbs cause Atrial Fibrillation (AF) ??

    • Anonymous
      December 21, 2007 at 6:55 am

      Hi everybody, out there in GBS land and thank you for allowing me to be part of the family. I gained my “Qualifications” in early June 2007 and am still searching for some answers. I came across your site and found it very interesting. Reading peoples stories I can see that most people have similar experiences but no two seem to be the same so it is hard to make comparisons.
      First, I will give a brief history of events leading up to and since I went down with GBS. Please keep in mind that I am not a computer guru and this is my first attempt at communicating via a forum. Still working out threads and posts etc. My wife Deirdre will help me type it in.
      On May 16th this year Deirdre and I went to Perth, Western Australia to visit our youngest daughter Kerrie who now lives there. (a long way from home)
      We took the late afternoon flight, (a 5 hour trip from Brisbane), that got into Perth after midnight, needless to say we were very tired after this. Next day I found that I had very sore glands and was tired most of the time, but we pushed on and made the most of our time there.
      After returning home the sore glands started to fade away and I went back to work. We had decided that this year I would get the flu shot. I have never had it before, but as I have been working two jobs, both bringing me in contact with the public a lot, we thought it might be a good idea!!
      I went to my local medical centre and got the shot, told the doctor that I was getting over a virus of some sort. He checked to see if I had a temperature and as I did not he said everything should be ok.
      About 11 days later I woke up about midnight Friday night and had pain in both my upper arms. I decided to get up for a drink and a painkiller but when I went to walk noticed my legs were weak. I took the painkillers and returned to bed till morning. I did not feel any better when I got up but I went to work anyway. About mid morning I felt I was getting worse so I went to the medical centre. The doctor checked me out and said it looked like I had a virus and to take some rest. I rested up for a day but felt I was getting worse so on the Monday we headed off to the emergency department at the hospital. By this time I had trouble walking and it was an effort for Deirdre to get me in the door. I was attended to straight away and the first thing the nurse said was “Have you always had a irregular heartbeat?” This I was not aware of, and to me they assumed that I had a heart problem. I was then given a dose of, I think magnesium, to return my heart to a regular rhythm, and hopefully correct the weakness in my legs. This apparently worked too well and my pressure fell too low to the point that I was passing out. My blood pressure eventually returned to an elevated level and all other symptoms remained.
      We became aware that they did not know what the problem was. One doctor came to me and said we need to start at the start again as we seem to be missing something. It was then decided that I would be staying in over night to have some tests done. I had two MRI scans done and a lumbar tap. After nearly two days I was told that there was a 99% chance that I had GBS. I, or nobody we know had heard of this condition. By this time I could not walk at all or use my arms. My bladder and bowel function failed, and my breathing became weaker but I did not need a ventilator. My breathing and heart function was closely monitored. I was given five doses of IVIG. By the end of this, my condition started to show improvement. I continued to improve and after a month, I was transferred to a rehab hospital. I was in a ward where everyone was recovering from either a stroke or a heart attack. Then you realize that there are people a lot worse off than yourself. They started getting me out of bed and into a wheelchair and then standing between the bars. I slowly got back to walking. I now walk unaided, but have major problem with my right arm. I cannot raise my arm up against gravity. Apparently, I have axonal damage in my upper arm/shoulder area. Has anyone had a similar problem and did it recover enough to gain reasonable use of it? How long did it take? Also, has anybody had heart rhythm problems associated with GBS? (AF) Doctors have varying opinions on this. Like GBS, this is a long story – sorry!

    • Anonymous
      December 21, 2007 at 10:24 am

      hi greg & welcome,

      your heart irregularities may or may not be gbs associated. the treatment is usually the same. axonal damage or not no one knows how long nor to what degree any one gbser will recover. what we do know that recovery is high. rest lying down as often as possible.


    • Anonymous
      December 21, 2007 at 3:57 pm

      welcome to the family and sorry to hear you are fighting gbs.
      you have found a great group of people here.
      i’ve only been part of the forum since nov.
      i was dx with cidp

    • Anonymous
      December 23, 2007 at 5:06 am

      In a word, yes, but always have things “checked out”. Your nervous system is the communication system for the entire body and we don’t really know how much “cross-over” there is between the peripheral and central systems. So often, years down-the-road, research will prove out what we, the patients, have already told them!! I had lots of “crazy” symptoms, including heart issues, that couldn’t be attributed to anything other than GBS.

      I wish you well.

    • Anonymous
      December 24, 2007 at 11:04 am

      My daughter (sitting here at the breakfast table and who is an MD) thinks a connection between GBS and AF is very unlikely. The heart rhythm is controlled through impulses between the heart cells and not through the nervous system. You most likely received a beta blocker or perhaps a calcium channel blocker. AF can be caused by a number of factors including alcohol or damage to the heart.

      I have had CIDP since 2001 and earlier this year atrial flutter was discovered. It was normal before that. The only option discussed was cardioversion, using shock. The cardiologist decided against it. It would require a bloodthinner before the procedure. He considered this too risky because I’ve had a large subdural hematoma caused by a fall. AF is still there, I think. Risk is a possible blood clot causing a stroke. Nothing like living dangerously. 😮

    • Anonymous
      December 25, 2007 at 2:37 am

      Thank you and other members who have commenented on my original post.My doctor did scare me a bit talking about strokes and heart attacks that can be a result of AF. While my cholesterol reading was not to bad he has put me on Lipidil to adjust my levels. I have also been put on Lanoxin and Betaloc to control my heart rhythm. Most days I feel fine , I continue to exercise my arm as much as possible. I know this most likely will do nothing as far as nerve regeneration goes but I am trying to keep my muscles working as much as possible in the hope that the nerve function recovers.My legs are still very weak but I can walk , can do half an hour around the block most days and not feel too bad after it.The other thing I have noticed is that my temperature sensation has changed.The weather here is quite warm(30deg c +) but I can feel cool enough at times to put a coat on. Happy Christmas everyone.

    • Anonymous
      December 25, 2007 at 5:41 am

      Hello, I wanted to chime in that there are “case reports” of atrial fibrillation and Guillain Barre syndrome meaning that if you search for the combination (by a medical search engine called PubMed or a public search engine like Google), you see reports of both together. One of the Google searches linked to a textbook of cardiology that stated that atrial fibrillation can occur in Guillain Barre syndrome and also listed almost every other kind of alteration in heart rhythm. Most of the changes are in rate not transfer of the electrical impulse through the heart, though, meaning that the heart rate is slow or rapid but regular. GBS can affect any type of nerve–motor (causing weakness), sensory (causing numbness or pain), or autonomic (that regulated the “vital” functions of the body such as heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature to extremities). There can also be alteration in the stability of these because of the nerve damage in GBS so that people can have wide fluctuations in these instead of the remarkable consistency usually present. This probaly means that if your brain says to the heart, I need a faster heart rate, instead of a slightl faster one you get a really fast one because the nerve communication and feedback is altered. How one adjusts and compensates using nerve conduction no longer works quite right. It sounds like you had a lot of “autonomic” effects at onset of the Guillain Barre and still have quite a bit. It is not clear if these resolve or if people relearn how to regulate in the face of an altered nerve system, but either way, they get a lot better. The temperature sensativity is likely one of the effects of this since the autonomic nerves regulate blood flow and this is used to keep temperature steady. In reading here, most people with GBS have trouble with feeling too hot in warm weather, but others of us seem to also have trouble keeping a feeling of being warm enough in cold weather.

      WithHope for cure of these diseases and peace in living through them.

    • Anonymous
      December 25, 2007 at 2:50 pm


      When I first read your post, I looked to see if there was anything listed under Afterial Fibrillation in the new book by Ds. Parry and Steinberg. Index and Glossary showed nothing.

      Today while looking through the book for something else, I came accross this on page 84/85.

      Heartbeat Irregularities

      The heart beats normally at a rate of 60 to 100 times each minute, and the beat occurs at regular intervals. In patients with GBS, the heart may beat too slowly, too rapidly, or it may beat irregularly. The most common abnormality of heartbeat in GBS is sustained resting tachycardia, or rapid heartbeat. This is not, in itself, dangerous, but it is an indication of autonomic nerve involvement that may precede a more dangerous abnormality of cardiac rate or rhythm. Rapid heart rates of a degree sufficient to compromise the output of blood from the heart are much less common, but they do occur occasionally. Rates that remain consistently above 130 to 140 beats/minute can be dangerous. Increased heart rate is not necessarily due to autonomic involvement, but may reflect other problems, such as infection, fever, inadequate fluids (dehydration), or blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism). In fact, these are more common causes of tachycardia in the GBS patient, and a careful search for these conditions should be made before attributing tachycardia to autonomic involvement. Treatment of tachycardia in GBS is seldom necessary, and any medical treatment should be used with great caution as it may lead to an abruptly slow heart rate (bradycardia), which is much more dangerous. It may be necessary to insert a temporary pacemeker to prevent bradycardia and maintain adequate cardiac output before treating tachycardia medically in GBS. Although bradycardia is uncommon in GBS, it can develop. Rates that stay consistently below 40 and 50 beats/ minute are potentially dangerous. An excessively slow heartbeat may necessitate medical treatment with drugs.

      Cardiac arrhythmia can also occur in GBS. As with a tachycardia, it is imporatnt to consider other causes before attributing arrhythmia to an effect on the ANS. Reduced oxygenation of the blood due to respiratory failure, pulmonary emboli, electrolyte imbalance, and infection can all cause cardiac arrhythmia. If a GBS patient has an irregular cardiac rhythm, inadequate oxygenation due to problems with breathing amy exacerbate the arrhythmia, potentially turning a benign arrhythmia into a life-threatening situation. Thus, meticulous management of ventilatory failure and early mechanical ventilation are doubly important in patients with cardiac arrhythmia.

      Not sure if this is of any help, thought I would just type it out as an FYI.

    • Anonymous
      December 27, 2007 at 5:19 am

      Thank you Alison for your reply. I think it is wonderful that you and others take the time to find information and then share it with others. I find all the information very interesting and informative. Thank you all.

    • Anonymous
      December 27, 2007 at 10:42 am

      I have had atrial fibrillation form around 1992 till last May. To make a long story short, they final got it under control with a combination of medicine and a pacer [a pacer is different from a pacemaker or a defibrillator] I have CIDP so I’ve asked the same questions. The betting money says that atrial fibrillation is something separate from CIDP. Of course they are still practicing medicine so that may not be correct in all cases. I hope this helps

      Jim C [the following comes from an Internet search]

      [FONT=”Comic Sans MS”][COLOR=”Blue”]What is atrial fibrillation?

      Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of cardiac arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is when the heartbeat becomes irregular or changes its rate inappropriately. An arrhythmia can occur for a number of reasons, but in cases of AF it happens when another part of the heart (often located at the pulmonary veins) tries to take over as the pacemaker. Many parts of the right and left upper chambers (atria) try to signal the heart to beat with rapid, irregular impulses. These impulses cause the upper heart to contract very rapidly, often so fast that the chambers “quiver” instead of “really” pumping. This fibrillation, or rapid contracting, of the atria interrupts the heart’s normal efficient pumping.[/COLOR][/FONT]


    • Anonymous
      July 20, 2008 at 3:13 am

      Some may be interested in a progress report of my condition and perhaps give hope to anyone just diagnosed that things do improve.
      It is just over a year now, this time last year I was lying in a hospital bed not knowing what was next,but I am now about 80% recovered. I still have weakness in my legs and especially my right arm. I made a gradual return to work over the last six months or so and have now gone full time. I still get tired and tend to rest a lot more than I did before GBS but with exercise and all the good food my wife cooks (lots of seeds nuts and green things) my strength is still improving, very slowly but I do think it will get back to more or less normal in time
      The other problem with my heart (AF) has also improved, have not felt anything wrong for months now. Still on medication for that and will be as things continue to improve. I guess I will never know for sure if both problems were connected. Thanks again to all who responded to my queries

    • Anonymous
      July 20, 2008 at 7:58 am

      Greg, progress like yours gives us hope. Glad you have recovered so well.
      Keep improving

    • Anonymous
      July 20, 2008 at 6:36 pm

      Welcome to our family. MIght I suggest that you do not sleep or lay down on your left side. I have had slight atrial fibrillation for 25 years. I am a blonde of northern European heritage and we are prone to this. Twenty percent of American women have Af – they call it Click syndrome -and call us Click chicks! I can sit at the beach and tell which women have it. Our chests have a natural cleavage – those who don’t look like their breasts are glued on. I think there are other Middle Eastern countries where it is prevalent also. I have read articles that said people should sleep on their RIght side because sleeping on the left is not healthy for the heart and possibly causes unnatural heart beats. I have found this to be true. When I got GBS in 86 and in 2006 my heart went crazy due to the messed up electrical signals. I have since weaned myself off of the blood pressure pills. Taking the right fish oils helps keep the blood slippery (instead of thin) to prevent clots. I like this idea better than thinning it with Coumadin/bllod thinner.
      My theory for GBS is that it hits when you are stressed out or have pushed your body too much. Was this the situation before you got it? You said you had two jobs. This is the only thing we all have in common – as far as I can see…. Carolyn

    • Anonymous
      July 20, 2008 at 10:45 pm

      Had a GBS moment…..sorta…..I meant to say 20% of American women have mitral valve prolapse……when I would bend over to put down a golf ball, my heart would start to flutter. That is how I discovered it. It just means the connective tissue makes the valve sorta floppy……most of us have a mild version of it… it is connected to A F. It is still healthier to sleep on your RIGHT side…for everyone…..see if it makes a difference.

    • July 21, 2008 at 12:31 am

      [QUOTE=Carolyn]Had a GBS moment…..sorta…..I meant to say 20% of American women have mitral valve prolapse……when I would bend over to put down a golf ball, my heart would start to flutter. That is how I discovered it. It just means the connective tissue makes the valve sorta floppy……most of us have a mild version of it… it is connected to A F. It is still healthier to sleep on your RIGHT side…for everyone…..see if it makes a difference.[/QUOTE]
      Interesting….I happen to have european grandparents…mothers father is from London, mothers mother is of scottish decent. Fathers father is irish decent, not sure about fathers mother. My flutters have been around for many many years, but have happened more often since GBS. Especially when I am anxious or stressed. Always scares me!

    • Anonymous
      July 21, 2008 at 12:36 pm

      Dear Fairly Odd MOther,
      JUst look in the mirror at your cleavage. If it looks like a natural indentation instead of flat, you have mitral valve prolapse. When I went to get an exam in the hospital using sonar, the doc looked at me standing there and said I had it, but let’se see if it is bad. It wasn’t. I found that when I strengthened by body with supplements, the fluttering went away for years. You might be deficient in something. It’s funny how one or two little chemicals that are off give us symptoms. I hope I have explained it clearly..if not, let me know. It will take one second to tell.