The following tests of autonomic function were performed on seven patients with the Guillain-Barré syndrome and compared with controls: (1) measurement of heart rate and blood pressure in the supine and erect positions, (2) measurement of baroreflex sensitivity, (3) Valsalva's manoeuvre, (4) sweat test. In two patients the heart rates were fixed and greater than 100/min and in three there was postural hypotension. The baroflex sensitivity of four patients was abnormal and heart rate response to Valsalva's manoeuvre was impaired in two of the three patients who were able to perform the manoeuvre. Areas of anhidrosis were found in all seven patients. These abnormalities probably reflect pathological alterations of the sympathetic and parasympathetic components of the autonomic nervous system of patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome. The severity of autonomic involvement is not related to the degree of sensory and motor disturbance which is consistent with the patchy distribution of lesions throughout the peripheral and autonomic nervous systems.
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