Caffeine & Heart Palpitations

The National Institutes of Health define heart palpitations as sensations of rapid or racing heartbeats 1. Although this feeling is disconcerting, it usually is not a cause for alarm. Your heart is still pumping blood, and it is just experiencing a momentary irregularity in its beats. Most heart palpitations are a result of outside triggers, and caffeine is a common trigger, according to the NIH 1.


Caffeine causes heart palpitations partly because it stimulates your central nervous system, the American Heart Association says 2. Although your heart has a spontaneous rhythm, nervous impulses can alter that rhythm. You may simply be more sensitive to caffeine, which heightens your body's reaction and triggers momentary heart palpitations.


A 2005 issue of "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" says most people can tolerate a moderate amount of caffeine without uncomfortable side effects 2. About 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine, which is equivalent to two to four cups of regular coffee, is considered moderate. More than this amount can stimulate a reaction, including heart palpitations.


Heart palpitations can manifest in more ways than a rapid or racing heart rate.You may experience what feels like a skipped heartbeat, according to the NIH. You may also experience a more forceful or pounding rhythm of your heart. It can even feel like a simple fluttering in your chest.


Limit your caffeine consumption if it triggers heart palpitations, the National Institutes of Health says 1. You may be so sensitive to caffeine that you must avoid coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks and chocolate, but the limits vary.


Although heart palpitations rarely are serious, they can be a sign of an underlying condition, such as arrhythmia or heart failure 1. If heart palpitations are accompanied by dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain or fainting, or for any other concerns, consult a doctor 1.