Yes, palpitations CAN occur as a result of a bowel movement, and a cardiologist explains why pooping can make you feel as though your heart skipped a beat.
“Anything that causes pain or anxiety can cause palpitations,” begins Alvaro Waissbluth, MD, an Ohio-based heart surgeon board certified in interventional cardiology and cardiovascular diseases, and founder of Eat Tank, an educational nutrition initiative that provides simple tools and practical knowledge for better understanding food.
“And if there is a big hard painful poop, this can in turn cause palpitations.” The pooping itself usually does not cause the palpitations in a direct fashion.
But when having a bowel movement, some people develop anxiety—for a number of reasons.
One of them might be fear of developing a hemorrhoid. Or, it could be fear of colon cancer; they are driven to inspect their poops with every movement, afraid that the next inspection is going to reveal blood or some other concerning feature.
Another source of anxiety could be that of having a big bowel movement in a public restroom—while someone is in the stall right next to you.
Or maybe you’re in a restaurant bathroom and you’re worried that someone in your party—wondering what’s taking you so long—is going to walk into the john any moment calling out your name. Let the palpitations begin!
Dr. Waissbluth adds, “There are also transient shifts in blood flow during bowel movements which, for people very sensitive to their heartbeats, can lead to ‘feeling’ more heartbeats.
“Also, bearing down too much can alter the return of blood to the heart and cause various changes in heart rate as well, and this too can lead to palpitations.”
Bearing down refers to holding your breath as you push to get a tough poop out.
Try not to hold your breath. Instead, concentrate on exhaling during the push. Holding your breath during such an action will raise blood pressure.
Is there a way to prevent or reduce palpitations during a bowel movement?
Dr. Waissbluth says, “Eat more fiber, bear down less, enjoy the poop by golly.”
One medium apple = five grams of fiber. One medium banana = three grams. One tablespoon of chia seeds, which you can sprinkle in salads and rice, contains three grams.
Do Not Worry About Palpitations
“There is typically nothing to worry about, as most palpitations are benign,” says Dr. Waissbluth.
“But you never know if there is an underlying heart issue, so always check with your doctor, as some simple noninvasive testing can get to the answer quickly and easily.”
Dr. Waissbluth is affiliated with
Atrium Medical Center and has been
in practice for more than 20 years.