Find out why caffeine causes premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) and how long after eating or drinking this substance it takes to make your heart “skip” beats.

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How long after eating (or drinking a caffeinated beverage) does it take a high-caffeine food to cause PVCs?

“Caffeine effect on PVCs or palpitations is almost instant,” says cardiologist David N. Smith, MD, owner of Premier Cardiovascular Care, Charlotte, NC.

“Likely a few minutes from being absorbed after consuming, but palpitations (the sensation of PVCs) may last for 15 minutes to hours afterwards.”

Anticipating premature ventricular contractions when you’re about to drink coffee can actually trigger them, if your anticipation involves enough anxiety, since anxiety can cause these “palpitations.”

Why does caffeine cause PVCs in some people? Mechanism?

Dr. Smith explains, “This is a reflection of the underlying individual’s sensitivity. The effect of caffeine has a same effect in all hearts, but not everyone would be as sensitive.

“It is thought that caffeine acts on the heart’s cells through something called a receptor.

“Once that receptor is agitated, changes happen within the heart muscle cell, including a change in the flow of calcium that promotes contraction or twitching in just a few cells, rather than the entire heart. This leads to the premature twitch or contraction.”

dr. smith

Dr. Smith is a published author, national lecturer and Yale-trained physician-scientist certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Cardiovascular Disease. 
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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Top image: Shutterstock/NOBUHIRO ASADA