GBS and heart rate variability

    • Anonymous
      August 26, 2006 at 12:01 pm

      My father has been hospitalized for four weeks now with GBS. He has had problems with high blood pressure since developing the disease and has been experiencing fluctuations in his heart rate. The problem with his heart seems to have gotten somewhat worse the past few day but is now stable. They have called in a cardiologist to do an examination and he is talking about the possibility of installing a pacemaker pending the results of an Echocardiogram. Is this common with Guillain-Barré?

      He is on a respirator and seems to be slowly recovering otherwise. He can move his eyelids more than he could a week ago and they have reduced his vent settings.


    • Anonymous
      August 26, 2006 at 1:02 pm


      My heart rate for a few days was 180bpm at rest(discovered after 2 days of my wife trying to get the nurses to get a doc in), and the surgen vultures circled my bed instantly. Discussed pacemakers right over me while I couldn’t talk on the vent. My mind was screaming at them “Slow the damn train down docs!!”. Then one doc came to his sences and said lets try some kind of med first, and lucky for me, it did the trick. For us harder hit, this is a common occurance. I cringe every time I hear of a GBSer getting a pacemaker when this happens. I just hope they did everything, including giving the patient some time, and everything possable was done, before the surgery. A tough call. The blood pressure issue will be with him for awhile, and the heart rate should come under control with meds. The BP issue is common for anybody flat on their back for some time. About my 3rd try doing a slant table, the PT cranked it up a bit too fast, and I passed out briefly. That’s always an attention getter. lol Hope things come back under control, but stuff like this will, or can, crop up along the way at strange intervals. You think things are going just fine, then wham, here’s something out of the blue to deal with. Part of what I call, the body trying to find itself after such a hard hit like GBS. The body will always go to the life support system first to get squared away and under control, but it’s a bit mixed up too wondering what happened. Another speed bump to travel over.

    • Anonymous
      August 26, 2006 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks Racer

      They haven’t put in the pacemaker yet they will do the echo next Monday I’m hopping changing his meds will alleviate the symptoms. The doctor said this may have been a preexisting problem before GBS put I doubt it. I had read some scary stuff about GBS and heart problems but I realized it was from a report done almost 20 years ago. I am going to try to contact a cardiologist that has more experience in dealing with GBS patients as it sounds like the heart issues are not that uncommon.


    • Anonymous
      August 26, 2006 at 3:16 pm

      Hi Scott,

      Understand that GBS doesn’t effect the heart per say, it’s the muscles making it do it’s thing that are effected by the disease. Especially us males, we hardly see a doc in our lifetimes unless we are cornered in some way, and have no true way of knowing if something was there for a long time, regardless of the disease he’s going through now. Most people discover other ailments, or medical conditions in times like these, and after the fact, so everything is that diseases’ fault. Could be, but things could have been there long before it too. As an example, a lot of us have thyroid issues, and everyone of us didn’t know it until it was discovered during the GBS trauma, or sometime after. There for, it’s all GBS’s fault. I simply asked my doctor if my thyroid issue could have been with me for years prior, and his answer was most certainly. Not having a phisical, with that specific blood test done in 15 years prior to my onset of GBS, there is absolutly no way to determine if GBS caused, or tipped the scales on that one. Just treat the issue, and move on. That’s what complicates most GBS cases. Discovering more medical problems outside of GBS. Now, you have multipul things to deal with instead of just one. The docs are doing the right thing and checking his heart out completly, but if all comes out clean, he’s experiancing a GBS annomoly just like I, and many others did, and that heart med should keep things under control. Keep us posted.

    • Anonymous
      August 26, 2006 at 3:34 pm

      My 16 year old son had high blood pressure brought on by GBS. Meds brought it under control for a couple of weeks, and then in a span of two days he came off the meds completely because his BP suddenly dropped back to normal for him. Apparently the nerves around his heart were repaired and ready to do their job again.

    • August 26, 2006 at 7:52 pm

      I have vague recollections of my cardiologist doing an echo on me. Later, when I returned from La-La Land, my sister told me that my heart went crazy and they were watching me like a hawk. After a few days, everything calmed down. I am on Toprol and Coumadin for it now.

    • Anonymous
      August 27, 2006 at 2:00 am

      Scott, included in peripheral nerves is the autonomic nervous system which is out side our conscious control. It deals with dilatation and constriction of blood vessels, hence blood pressure, the speeding up and slowing down of the heart beat, the movement of the guts, the spasm or opening of the bronchial tubes etc. All these can also be affected by humoral control, that is adrenalin from the adrenal glands in turn controlled by the pituitary gland in the brain.

      There is within the heart an electrical conduction system for bringing impulses to the atria and the ventricles via the bundles of Hiss. Certain atrial tissue can develop its own pacemaker hence atrial fibrillation at upto 300 beats per minute .

      If there is block to conduction the ventricles settle down to their own intrinsic rate of less than 40 b.p.m., this is typically the circumstances where a pacemaker is needed.

      GBS can involve the autonomic nervous system so many have widely variable blood pressures and heart beat rates. If there is no heart block I would hesitate about a pacemaker unless circulation to brain or cardiac tissue is being impaired, by an excessively rapid rate. DocDavid

    • Anonymous
      August 29, 2006 at 1:23 am

      Thank you, Doc David, once again! I was sure that your explanation was the case but didn’t know how to explain to others. (good to hear from you:) )

    • Anonymous
      August 29, 2006 at 10:56 pm

      Doc David,

      I was diagnosed with GBS in 9/1/01 and to this day I’m still dealing with heart palpitations that started the very week I got sick. I NEVER had them before! They have continued for these five years with no change, I’m not on medication anymore (since I really couldn’t tell the difference anyway) I’m left wondering if I’m going to kill over one day becuase of something my VA doc’s missed?? KTWomack

    • Anonymous
      August 30, 2006 at 6:01 am

      KTWomack, no you won’t keel over and die from palpitation. Palpitation is the boom titty boom that you feel. It is not a diagnosis, by far the most common cause is extra heart beats (atrial extra-systoles) nearly always due to emotion, or caffeine. I used to successfully treat 90% by advising two weeks off coffee and tea. The patients then realised for themselves what was causing it and could then manage their caffeine intake as they wished.

      The normal heart rate is between 60 and 100 per minute. A sustained rate above 100 is a tachycardia and may be due to autonomic nerve invovement, or many other disorers.
      A sustained rate below 60 is eiither genetic, or very, very fit or rarely a conduction defect in the heart muscle.

      Sustained irregular heart beats are due to atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, diagnosed on ECG and require anticoagulents and a heart slowing drug.
      How about stopping cofee and tea for two weeks? Don’t believe decaff. DocDavid

    • Anonymous
      August 30, 2006 at 10:50 am

      Yes, it apparently is common. When I was first put in the hospital my BP and heart rate were all over the place. I usually have very low BP and heart rate, but when the onset of GBS began, they both would go crazy from time to time. After maybe 2 weeks, they began to quickly stabilize back to normal.