Heart Palpitations After Eating

It is possible that heart palpitations appear in conjunction with certain daily activities, such as eating. Many patients complain that the heart palpitations appear after eating, being accompanied by a wide range of other symptoms. Identifying the exact cause behind the complaints is essential, so as to be able to provide the right treatment. The appearance of heart palpitations after eating is more common in those who are overweight, while it is less common in those who are anorexic.

It is important to understand that it is not necessary for a connection to exist between the mealtime and the appearance of the heart palpitations. These can appear as a normal physiological act, at the same time with swallowing. Maintaining the orthostatic position can also lead to such problems, as well as emotions, stress or anxiety, as you will have the opportunity to see below. Your diet can represent the source of the problem, especially if you are lacking the necessary nutrients for the heart muscles (low potassium levels, low levels of sugar in the blood). Dehydration is considered a risk factor for heart palpitations as well. It is suspected that the hyperactivity of the vagus nerve contributes to the appearance of heart palpitations after eating.

Symptoms accompanying the Heart Palpitations (after eating)

These are the most common symptoms that accompany the heart palpitations, appearing at the same time after eating:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Vertigo
  • Fatigue or state of general malaise
  • Pain or tightness at the level of the chest
  • Excessive yawning
  • Intense sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  • State of agitation and irritation
  • Discomfort at the level of the abdomen
  • Palpitations at the level of the stomach
  • Inability to sleep
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)

Causes of Heart Palpitations after Eating

These are the most common causes/factors that can lead to the appearance of heart palpitations after eating:

  • Size of the meal (large quantities)
  • Composition of the meal (meal rich in carbohydrates, fats or sugar)
  • Food ingredients (monosodium glutamate, nitrates, sodium)
  • Allergy (food allergy to certain types of foods)
  • Intense emotions, stress or anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Underlying heart disease
    • Heart attack
    • Coronary artery disease
    • Congestive heart failure
    • Heart valve problems
    • Heart muscle problems
  • Irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia).

There are also a number of risk factors that can increase the risk for heart palpitations after eating:

  • Intense physical effort
  • Increased consumption of alcohol or caffeine
  • Drug abuse (cocaine, amphetamines and nicotine)
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Hormonal imbalance (thyroid disease, underactive thyroid)
  • Hormonal changes
    • Pregnancy
    • Menstruation
    • Perimenopause
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Anemia
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Medication
    • Decongestants
    • Asthma inhalers
    • Diet pills
    • Medication for arrhythmia
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Herbal supplements
    • Bitter orange
    • Valerian
    • Hawthorn
    • Ginseng
    • Ephedra
  • Electrolyte imbalance (irregular levels of electrolytes).


The diagnosis of the underlying heart disease can be made through the following methods:

  • Blood test (complete blood count)
  • Urine test (urinalysis)
  • EKG
  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress test
  • Chest X-ray
  • Physical examination
  • Medical history.

A special test that can be performed for the assessment of the heart palpitations is the Holter monitoring. For this test, you will have to wear a monitor on your chest, which will record the electric signals of the heart for one or two days. The test is recommended for the detection of the heart rhythm abnormalities that could not otherwise be diagnosed through the EKG investigation. A similar test is known as the event recording, where the recorder worn on the chest registers the electrical signals of the heart, detecting potential abnormalities of the heart rhythm.

Treatment for Heart Palpitations

In the majority of the cases, the heart palpitations that appear after eating are harmless, going away on their own (no further treatment necessary). The treatment measures that are recommended for heart palpitations include beta-blockers and calcium-channel blockers. In the situation that the patient does not respond to the medication, the surgical intervention will become necessary. Medication for indigestion, such as Pantoprazole, can contribute to the improvement of the heart palpitations and other associated symptoms.

Self care measures

Often times, it is possible to reduce or completely eliminate the appearance of heart palpitations after eating by taking certain self-care measures. For example, you should get accustomed to eating at regular intervals, with each meal having a moderate size. In order to prevent the hormone imbalances, you should get yourself tested for the hormone levels on a regular basis. For those who are overweight, establishing a weight loss plan is essential, with the foods that are rich in sugar and fat. If the heart palpitations are caused by anemia, you can improve the symptoms by changing the diet (eating foods that are rich in iron). When it comes to the potential food allergies, you should get yourself tested and also keep a food diary. In this way, it will be easier to make the connection between the food you have eaten and the appearance of the respective allergy (along with the associated symptoms).

For the situations when you suffer from extreme stress and anxiety, you should consider changing your daily habits and managing your day better. You can try relaxation and meditation techniques, in order to reduce the amount of stress and anxiety you are experiencing. In the situation that these techniques do not provide the desired results, you can try out psychological counselling. As these problems can be triggered by a number of factors, you need to try to reduce their impact. You should give up smoking and drinking alcohol, the same thing being valid for any drugs you might have consumed. The caffeine intake has to be reduced as well, as this is one of the major factors leading to such problems. It is also a good idea to avoid the medication that gives you such side-effects or talk to the doctor about switching to an alternative drug that does not cause heart palpitations after eating.

When to Call the emergency service

If you are experiencing the following symptoms, besides the heart palpitations, be sure to call the emergency service (you might be experiencing a heart attack and immediate medical assistance is more than necessary):

  • Difficult breathing (dyspnea)
  • Intense sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  • State of confusion
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Vertigo
  • Fainting
  • Pain or tightness at the level of the chest
  • Pain radiating on the left arm.


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