“Many patients note heart palpitations after meals,” says Chester M. Hedgepeth, III, MD, PhD, Executive Chief of Cardiology at Care New England.
“The most common reason for this is dietary caffeine intake during mealtime which is found in many drinks, including coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks and chocolate.
“Alcohol consumption during mealtime, especially if in moderate of high levels, can be associated with heart palpitations.”
Dr. Hedgepeth further explains, “Some patients may also have sensitivity to a particular food, or food additive like monosodium glutamate (MSG).
“Heartburn caused by eating spicy or rich foods can lead to heart palpitations. If you have heart palpitations after eating, it may not be directly related to the food but to the mealtime experience.
“Palpitations can be triggered by the simple act of swallowing, or if your mealtimes are a source of anxiety or stress.”
That last point is very compelling. For many people, mealtimes are a time of stress.
If you’ve been experiencing heart palpitations while you eat or “from” eating…take note of the conversation and emotions that take place during the meal.
Do arguments usually ensue?
Do the discussions revolve around stressful topics such as budgeting and saving money, negative experiences at the workplace or the in-laws’ upcoming visit?
Of course, if you have heart palpitations while eating alone, you may still want to assess your thought processes during this time.
When you eat by yourself, is this also the time that you worry about all sorts of things?
Can heart palpitations after eating mean anything bad?
“Usually, the palpitations after mealtime are not associated with any pathology and resolve on their own,” says Dr. Hedgepeth.
“Rarely, these palpitations can be associated with a cardiac arrhythmia. Progressive palpitations which are increasing in duration or which are associated with chest pain, shortness of breath or fainting should be evaluated by a physician.”
Preventing Palpitations “from” Eating
“The key to preventing the symptoms is to try identifying what the trigger is for them to occur,” says Dr. Hedgepeth.
“Certainly, reducing caffeine and alcohol intake will help prevent mealtime associated palpitations.
“Also, eliminating foods for which the patient may have a sensitivity or which contain additives (e.g., MSG) may help.”
Dr. Hedgepeth also serves as a physician in the cardiovascular division and arrhythmia service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, plus is an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.