Medical Questions > Conditions and Diseases > Vascular and Circulatory Disorders Forum

Antiperspirants, Syncope & Atrial Fibrillation

Hello, All - This will probably sound a little strange but if it helps one person with a-fib, it will have been worth the effort. I propose that antiperspirants, specifically aluminum chlorohydrate, may be culpable in the severity of atrial fibrillation, deglutition syncope, PVC’s, and other heart rhythm abnormalities, especially when combined with other medications.

I offer the following for your perusal. I’m 67 years old and have had paroxysmal atrial fibrillation since I was in my early 40’s. My first bout landed me in the hospital (CCU) and lasted about 38 hours. Since the doctors weren’t helping me (just giving me IV drugs and observing), I demanded to be released to go home to die or whatever. They offered me a valium to calm down and I accepted. I swallowed the pill with some water and when it hit my esophagus I converted. My heart rate then went down to 25bpm and they freaked. But, my normal heart rate is about 43bpm at rest so this actually felt good and it didn’t bother me at all. I finally got some sleep.

My condition, originally, was caused by excess amounts of caffeine and alcohol. I cut way back on caffeine and it helped a lot. As a musician that played a lot of nightclubs, alcohol was a regular thing - not that I abused it but I was around it a lot and I was considered a social drinker, primarily on weekends. During research, I found that magnesium supplements helped a lot and nearly stopped my a-fib even with my drinking. I’d take 400 mg before I’d go out and I’d be OK. My a-fib attacks were few and far between until I hit 51. After a busy week at the clubs, I had a doozy that landed me back in the hospital. I was four hours from cardioversion when I insisted on a magnesium IV drip and two hours later I converted. That attack had lasted 46 hours.

A few years later, I went through a similar situation but this time, magnesium didn’t work and I had the cardioversion. I was knocked out but they said it took a few shocks to get me to convert. I had the burns to prove it. Not fun. After that I went entirely to decaf and cut way back on my drinking. The club business was fading out so that helped as I pretty much quit playing music. My a-fib attacks after that were about a couple of months apart and the magnesium still helped.

Then in 2009 something changed. My attacks became more frequent, about every six weeks or so. Magnesium no longer worked and, as a matter of fact, now made it worse. My doctor put me on diltiazem (240mg), flecainide acetate (50mg) and a blood thinner I didn’t take (too many side effects) - I took a couple of regular aspirin instead. I only took it when I had an attack and that combo would convert me in anywhere from 4 to 12 hours. If I didn’t convert after 4 hours, I’d take another 50mg F/A (OK for me to take up to 400mgs in a 24 hour period).

By 2013 I was having attacks about every month. Doc wanted me to take the meds every day but when I did, I’d get bouts of tachycardia. About this time, I started taking tamsulosin hcl (Flowmax) for BPH. Then I started having another problem. When I would swallow, I’d nearly pass out. This is called deglutition syncope or swallow syncope. That means your heart stops beating briefly when you eat or drink something - has to do with the vagus nerve. I would have to drop to the floor and get my head below my body to not pass out. It happened in the mornings and after I hadn’t eaten anything for awhile. After a few swallows, I’d be OK - if not, I’d quit eating. I tried nearly everything to fix myself. I would stop eating something (like milk products) or stop taking different vitamin supplements (like B) and the syncope would let up and I’d think I’d found the cause but it always came back. Doc didn’t have a clue. And, it was getting worse.

By 2015 my a-fib attacks were getting more frequent. I was having as many as 4 or 5 a week and this was ruining my life. A lot of the time the a-fib was triggered by the syncope. Drinking water after a workout would trigger the syncope and I’d go into a-fib. No decaf at all, no alcohol at all, no milk products (a bit lactose intolerant - gas seemed to irritate things), no supplements, cut down on salt and anything else I could think of. Finally, I stopped the tamsulosin hcl and the syncope abated. For awhile. Then it came back but not as bad. I racked my brain to try and figure out what I’d changed in my life in 2009. Well, I started dating my girlfriend. So? The ONLY thing I did different after I started dating her was that I started using antiperspirant (aluminum chlorohydrate) on a regular basis.

Up until then, I’d only use it on weekends …. when I played music or went out partying (drinking). (Back then I’d usually have my a-fib attacks Monday night - seemed like it would take about 48 hours after I drank alcohol.) I didn’t really like to use antiperspirant all the time because it irritated my underarms - made my pits itch. (I’d look like Snuffy Smith scratchin’ my pits.) So, when I’d started dating again, I’d use less but I used it all the time. If I got an irritation, I’d use some hydrocortisone as well.

Anyway, I got to thinking about all that so I quit the antiperspirant just for the heck of it - I still used a regular deodorant. Lo and behold, my attacks get fewer and farther between. In two weeks, no syncope. In a month, no attacks at all. And I have been virtually attack free ever since. It’s been about 6 months and I’ve only had 3 short attacks. The meds knock it out in about an hour or two and it’s related to drinking too much (went back to socializing occasionally) or too much caffeine. I can have about a cup of regular coffee a day now but sometimes I overdo it, especially when driving any distance when I might get sleepy.

So, I’m kinda back to normal. Yes, I get a-fib attacks but only when I drink too much alcohol or caffeine. I can still have a little, just not too much. I still get PVC’s occasionally but that seems to be related to my BP meds (ACE inhib). Milk products bother me very little now. I’m back on tamsulosin and supplements with no problems. No syncope at all. So …. if you have these kinds of problems and you use an antiperspirant, try stopping the antiperspirant for a month and see how you do. Can’t hurt and it just might help. And, if it does help, spread the word - maybe we can help a bunch of people.
Cheers, Chippo
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