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Heart Palpitations & Eating

By Rachel Nall ; Updated August 14, 2017

You have just finished a large meal and your heart begins to feel as if it is fluttering or beating out of your chest. These feelings, known as heart palpitations, can be alarming. Understanding how and why these palpitations occur after eating can help you prevent future occurrences.

Significance

If you are prone to heart palpitations, eating excess amounts of food can increase your likelihood of experiencing them, according to Mother Nature, a health and wellness website. When you eat too much, it causes your body to go into metabolic overload, which can make your heart beat more rapidly as your body works to digest the excess foods.

Identification

Heart palpitations most commonly occur after eating when your body is trying to process the foods and the heart starts working harder to distribute blood to areas needed for digestion. You may experience a feeling of discomfort, a strong sense of your heart beating or even feel as if your heart has stopped beating, according to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

Trigger Foods

In addition to simply eating a large meal, eating certain foods can trigger heart palpitations, according to Mother Nature. This includes drinking alcohol with a meal. “Some people with arrhythmias are extremely sensitive to alcohol, and they usually know it--they sometimes get palpitations after just one drink,” said Dr. Jeremy Rushkin, a professor and cardiologist, in an interview on Mother Nature. Dr. Rushkin advises that you avoid alcohol altogether if you are prone to palpitations. Caffeine and foods containing it, such as chocolate, also can cause heart palpitations, according to the MayoClinic.com. Caffeine is a stimulant that can make your heart beat faster or abnormally.

Complicating Factors

Not every person experiences heart palpitations when eating too much or eating foods known to trigger palpitations. Those that are more likely to be affected by these triggers include those with heart disease or at significant risk for developing it and those with a heart arrhythmia or an abnormal heart valve, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Warning

While palpitations after eating are not always signs of a more serious problem, experiencing other symptoms in addition to these palpitations could signal a more serious condition. These include dizziness, confusion, light-headedness, difficulty breathing and fainting. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

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