Caffeine Consumption and Heart Palpitations

People around the world love caffeine. In fact, 80 percent of the world consumes it on a daily basis, and 90 percent of Americans consume it every day. Coffee, carbonated beverages, tea and other drinks all contain caffeine, and more products pop up on the shelves monthly.

What Is Caffeine?

While most people understand caffeine is a stimulant that keeps them awake, they do not necessary know why or what it does. Caffeine is a bitter alkaloid and is actually a psychoactive stimulant drug. Friedrich Ferdinand Runge discovered it in 1819.

What Are the Effects of Caffeine?

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, which when consumed temporarily wards off sleepiness and restores alertness. When consumed in the morning by way of coffee, it helps the drinker to feel more alert and ready to take on the day. Consumed during the day in other beverages such as soft drinks, energy drinks and tea can help sustain the momentum throughout the day.

Caffeine, while it has the ability to cause alertness, has a downside for some people, which is nervousness. Everyone’s makeup is different and some people become extremely hyperactive, nervous and even snappy while consuming caffeine.

Does Caffeine Cause Heart Palpitations?

Because caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, it can speed up the heart rate and cause the heart to flutter or palpitate. Most people describe palpitations as “fluttering” or a “skipped heartbeat,” or simply the sudden feeling of one’s own heartbeat. It can be quite alarming and doctors see many patients complaining of heart palpitations. There is no pain associated with the palpitations, but anything dealing with the heart is always a cause for concern.

Cutting down on caffeine is one sure way to find out if it’s the culprit causing the heart palpitations. If you consume a lot of caffeine daily, cut down slowly rather than simply stopping cold turkey, because you will certainly feel the effects of caffeine withdrawal, which include a nasty headache. Sometimes just cutting down to a nominal level is enough for the palpitations to subside.

How Much Is Too Much?

If you consume three cups of coffee just to get moving in the morning, and then throughout the day consume several caffeinated products, you are consuming too much and are a prime target for possible heart palpitations and the other unpleasant side effects that too much caffeine can bring.

After a week of cutting down on caffeine or gradually cutting it out all together, your heart palpitations should subside. If they don’t, you will want to make a trip to your doctor, since it’s possible that the caffeine was not the cause after all. Sometimes medications, herbs or the combination of these can spur on heart palpitations.

Heart palpitations are normally not serious unless they are present with fainting, shortness of breath, chest pain or dizziness. Any of these is an emergency.


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