Heart Palpitations After Eating
What are heart palpitations after eating?
Heart palpitations feel like your heart races, pounds, flutters or skips a beat. You may notice your heart rate when you have a palpitation. Or you may feel your heart beating in your throat, neck or chest.
Heart palpitations can happen anytime, including after or while eating. Though palpitations can seem scary, they usually aren’t dangerous.
How common are heart palpitations after eating?
Heart palpitations after eating are very common. They may occur if you have food allergies or sensitivities.
An increased heart rate happens to many people throughout the day. But you’re more likely to notice heart palpitations when you aren’t distracted. You might sense them when you’re sitting still, resting or lying down.
Symptoms and Causes
What are the symptoms of heart palpitations after eating?
Symptoms of heart palpitations include:
- Fluttering: You may feel a flapping or fluttery feeling in the chest. Your heart can feel like it’s doing flips.
- Irregular heart rate: Your heart might feel like it’s skipping a beat, beating out of rhythm, or speeding up and slowing down. It can also seem like your heart stops for a second or two.
- Pounding: You might feel like your heart is beating very hard. Some people who have heart pounding say they can hear their heartbeat in their ears.
What causes heart palpitations after eating?
Usually, heart palpitations are harmless. They can occur due to the chewing, swallowing and digestive process or because of ingredients you eat. Most palpitations don’t mean you have an underlying health problem.
What foods can cause heart palpitations after eating?
Foods that may cause heart palpitations include:
- High-carbohydrate foods, which can spike blood sugar levels, particularly if you have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
- High-sodium foods, such as processed or canned foods.
- High-sugar foods, especially if you have hypoglycemia
- Spicy or rich foods, which can cause heartburn and sometimes a quickly beating heart.
Certain ingredients in food may also trigger heart palpitations:
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Processed foods and some restaurant meals may contain this flavor-enhancer. People who are sensitive to MSG may have heart palpitations.
- Theobromine: Chocolate contains this naturally occurring compound found in cacao plants. Theobromine can increase heart rate, which leads to palpitations.
- Tyramine: Alcohol, aged cheeses, cured meats and dried fruit contain this amino acid. Tyramine can raise blood pressure and cause heart palpitations.
What supplements can cause heart palpitations after eating?
Taking dietary supplements with meals can sometimes lead to heart palpitations. These supplements include:
- Bitter orange, taken for heartburn, skin health and weight loss.
- Ephedra, taken for colds, energy and headaches.
- Ginseng, taken for energy.
- Hawthorn, taken for heart conditions.
- Valerian, taken for anxiety, depression and sleep.
What medications can cause heart palpitations after eating?
Certain medications, which you might take with food, can also lead to heart palpitations. These medications include:
- Allergy, asthma and cold medicines.
- Diet pills.
- Heart disease medications.
- High blood pressure medications.
- Thyroid medications.
Are there other causes of heart palpitations after eating?
Other causes of heart palpitations related to eating and drinking may include:
- Anemia (low red blood cell count), which can result from a lack of iron in your diet.
- Dehydration when you don’t drink enough water.
- Drinking alcohol, which may lead to atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm that starts in the heart’s two upper chambers).
- Feeling anxiety or stress before, during or after a meal.
- Low potassium levels (hypokalemia), which can cause arrhythmia.
Less commonly, heart palpitations after eating can be signs of a heart condition. If your heart often races after eating, see your healthcare provider for an exam. Seek help immediately if you have palpitations and chest pain or trouble breathing.
Does caffeine cause heart palpitations?
Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, tea and soda. Providers used to think that caffeine led to heart palpitations. But recent research suggests that, in moderation (up to three cups a day), caffeine may actually have heart benefits. If you drink more than three cups per day, you may notice palpitations.
That said, some people may be particularly sensitive to caffeine, even at low levels. Also, in rare cases, drinking large amounts of energy drinks high in caffeine may cause arrhythmias.
Diagnosis and Tests
How do healthcare providers diagnose heart palpitations after eating?
Your provider will listen to your heart to check for murmurs or other sounds. They will review your:
- Current medications, including herbal supplements.
- Medical history.
Your provider may recommend a blood test (complete blood count or CBC) to look for anemia or low potassium. They’ll also check for a thyroid problem or other health issues that could lead to heart palpitations.
Can my provider rule out a heart problem as the cause of heart palpitations after eating?
Your healthcare provider may suggest other tests to check your heart health. These tests include:
- Chest X-ray, which provides images of your heart and lungs.
- Echocardiogram (echo test) to show your heart’s function in motion.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) to monitor your heart rate and rhythm.
- Exercise stress test, which studies your heart’s rhythm and performance.
- Holter monitoring to record your heart’s activity over 24 to 48 hours.
- Event recorder to track your heart over weeks and enable you to record heart palpitations when you have them.
Management and Treatment
How do providers treat heart palpitations after eating?
Treatment for any kind of heart palpitations depends on the diagnosis. Many times, palpitations aren’t serious. They often go away on their own.
Providers may recommend that you make lifestyle changes to control your symptoms. These changes may include:
- Finding ways to cope with stress.
- Getting adequate sleep.
- Increasing exercise.
- Practicing yoga, tai chi or other forms of mindful movement.
- Quitting smoking.
How do I manage heart palpitations after eating?
Keeping a journal of your symptoms after you eat will help you notice what might trigger your palpitations. Make sure to note:
- What food and drinks you consume when your heart palpitations occur.
- What you’re doing when the palpitations start.
- How long the palpitations last.
How can I reduce my risk of heart palpitations after eating?
To lower your risk of heart palpitations:
- Get treatment for anxiety or depression. You can talk to your provider about antidepressant medication or other medicines. Therapy might help, too.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you carry extra weight, ask your provider about a weight loss plan.
- Start or maintain a regular exercise program. Exercise can improve overall cardiovascular health and help control anxiety.
- Take steps to reduce stress. You can try diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, yoga and other relaxation techniques.
Can I change my diet to avoid heart palpitations after eating?
Depending on the trigger, you may be able to change your diet to avoid heart palpitations after eating. You can try:
- Consuming foods rich in potassium, such as avocados, bananas, potatoes and spinach.
- Cutting back on alcohol.
- Drinking lots of fluids.
- Eating regularly to avoid low blood sugar.
- Monitoring your caffeine intake.
- Reducing the amount of salt and sugar you eat.
Outlook / Prognosis
What is the outlook for people with heart palpitations after eating?
Most people with heart palpitations after eating don’t require treatment. If palpitations happen from time to time, they aren’t usually dangerous. Many people find relief from heart palpitations after eating when they make changes to their diet or lifestyle.
If you have heart palpitations that result from a health condition, talk to your provider about a treatment plan. To relieve your symptoms, your provider will treat the condition that’s causing them.
When should I see my healthcare provider about heart palpitations after eating?
Most of the time, heart palpitations after eating aren’t harmful. But it’s important to see your provider to be sure they aren’t signs of a serious health problem.
Get help right away if you have heart palpitations along with:
- Chest pain or discomfort.
- Confusion or dizziness.
- Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath or other breathing problems.
- Excessive sweating (diaphoresis).
- Fainting (syncope).
- Unusual tightness in your arms, chest, jaw, neck or upper back.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Heart palpitations after eating are usually harmless. Your provider will make sure the palpitations aren’t a symptom of a more serious condition. You may be able to avoid heart palpitations after eating by monitoring the foods that cause symptoms and changing your diet. You can also lower your risk by maintaining a healthy weight and reducing stress. Pay attention to what you’ve had to eat or drink when you notice heart palpitations, and share this information with your healthcare provider. Seek help immediately if heart palpitations occur along with chest pain, confusion or difficulty breathing.
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