Heart Palpitations after Eating

Heart palpitations after eating often manifest itself in a variety of ways like nausea or dizziness, mild fatigue, excessive yawning and chest pain. Here we review the causes, symptoms, and treatments of heart palpitations in general, with a special emphasis on heart palpitations after eating.

If your heart begins to beat too fast or too hard, flutters, or skips a beat, you are experiencing a heart palpitation. Heart palpitations are often felt in the throat, chest, or neck. Some people may experience heart palpitations after eating in the form of a "racing" or "fluttering" heart. Heart palpitations may become noticeable while you are eating or immediately after finishing a meal. Overweight people often complain of heart palpitations after eating, while it is much less common among recovering anorexic patients.

What symptoms may accompany heart palpitations after eating?

There are many other symptoms that can accompany heart palpitations after eating. These symptoms include:

  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Mild fatigue or severe exhaustion
  • Chest pain
  • Tightness and soreness in the chest
  • Yawning excessively
  • Sweating and restlessness
  • Abdominal discomfort and stomach palpitations
  • Inability to sleep peacefully immediately after the meal
  • Shortness of breath

What are the causes of heart palpitations after eating?

In some cases, the heart palpitations after eating are due to the size of the meal eaten. They may also be related to the composition of the meal, namely if the meal was rich in carbohydrates, sugar, or fat. Moreover, foods that are high in monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates, or sodium can also trigger heart palpitations after eating. The best way to determine whether heart palpitations after eating are due to a particular food is to create a food diary.

In addition to heart palpitations after eating, heart palpitations may be linked to strong emotions or stress. In fact, panic attacks may induce heart palpitations. Underlying heart diseases, such as heart attack, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart valve problems, and heart muscle problems, may also lead to heart palpitations. These heart palpitations typically present as an arrhythmia. Below is a list of factors that are known to induce heart palpitations.

  • Brisk physical activity
  • Compounds such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, amphetamines, and cocaine
  • Medical conditions such as low blood pressure, thyroid disease, hypoglycemia, anemia, dehydration, and fever
  • In females, hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation, or perimenopause
  • Medications such as decongestants, asthma inhalers, diet pills, and medications for the treatment of arrhythmias and underactive thyroid
  • Nutritional supplements and herbal supplements
  • Irregular levels of electrolytes

What are the treatments for heart palpitations?

Heart palpitations are typically harmless and may go away without any interventions or treatments. In the event that there is an underlying cause of the heart palpitations, your doctor will suggest changing the behaviors that initiate the palpitations. In some cases, beta-blockers or calcium-channel blockers are administered if lifestyle changes fail to prevent heart palpitations. If an underlying medical condition is causing the heart palpitations, the underlying condition is treated. When your doctor is unable to cure your heart palpitations, you may be referred to a heart rhythm specialist (electrophysiologist).

Table 1: Causes and Treatments of Heart Palpitations

Cause

Treatment

Eating a large meal after starving for extended periods of time

Eat at regular intervals and moderately sized meals

Hormone imbalance

Check hormone levels regularly

Obesity

Limit the intake of foods that are high in sugar and fat

Severe anemia

Doctors may recommend iron supplements

Stress and anxiety

Reduce anxiety and stress using relaxation and/or meditation techniques

Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and cocaine

Avoid the foods, beverages, and other substances that trigger the heart palpitations

Cough/cold medicine, herbal supplements, and nutritional supplements

Avoid the medications or herbal supplements that trigger the heart palpitations