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Possible complication of bee stings and a review of the cardiac effects of bee stings
  1. Prabha Nini Gupta,
  2. B Krishna Kumar,
  3. Praveen Velappan,
  4. M D Sudheer
  1. Department of Cardiology, Medical College Hospital, Trivandrum, Trivandrum, Kerala, India
  1. Correspondence to Professor Prabha Nini Gupta, ninigupta{at}


We report the case of a patient who, ∼3 weeks after multiple bee stings, developed a prolonged heart block, syncope and cardiac arrest. This required a temporary pacemaker to be implanted, which was later replaced with a permanent pacemaker. An ECG taken following surgery for a fractured humerus 6 years earlier was reportedly normal. The patient had been a rubber tapper who walked ∼1.5 km/day, but after the bee attack he was no longer able to walk or get up from the bed without experiencing syncope. We presume that the bee venom caused these signs, as well as the resulting heart block, which persisted long after the bee sting had subsided. Since his coronary angiogram was normal we believe he had a Kounis type involvement of the cardiovascular system, namely profound coronary spasm that caused complete heart block that did not recover. Another probable reason for the complete heart block could have been that the bees had consumed the pollen of a rhododendron flower, causing ‘grayanotoxin’ poisoning and severe heart block. The other effects of bee sting are discussed briefly.

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  • Contributors PNG wrote the article, treated the patient. BKK treated the patient. PV performed the permanent pacemaker implantation. SMD retrieved the ECG records and performed the emergency temporary pacemaker implantation. BKK followed up the patient. PNG and PV performed the permanent pacemaker implantation.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.