Palpitations after eating - how dangerous is it?


Palpitations after eating often occur in connection with various clinical pictures, such as in the early phase of diabetes mellitus type II, or as a result of a Billroth II operation and is often found to be very unpleasant by those affected.
Palpitations exist from a heartbeat of over 100 per minute. The racing heart can occur at different intervals after eating and be accompanied by various other symptoms.

You can find a lot more information about palpitations in general at: Racing heart


A typical symptom of palpitations after eating, regardless of the cause, is an increase in the pulse to over 100 beats per minute, either immediately or after a certain time after eating. The racing heart may be accompanied by profuse sweating, a drop in blood pressure and, in rare cases, shock. Also nausea, digestive problems, a physical one weakness or a general one nervousness can occur after eating, depending on the cause of the racing heart.

The palpitations can be reduced through targeted therapeutic measures or in some cases through spontaneous regression.

Causes of the racing heart

There are numerous causes that can cause palpitations after eating.

On the one hand, there are the so-called dumping syndromes, which are further divided into early and late dumping. The dumping syndromes usually occur as a result of an operation on the stomach. The Billroth II operation should be mentioned, in which part of the stomach is removed due to an ulcer or tumor and the small intestine is attached to the permanent stomach stump.
In addition, an operation to reduce the size of the stomach, for example if you are very overweight, or a so-called vagotomy, in which parasympathetic nerve fibers in the stomach are cut in order to reduce gastric acid production, can lead to a dumping syndrome with palpitations after eating:

  • Early dumping:
    The reason is the reduced passage time of food through the stomach and the premature arrival of the chyme in the small intestine. The food thus suddenly reaches the small intestine and, in the case of early dumping, ensures that its high osmotic concentration quickly attracts a lot of water into the intestinal lumen.
    As a result, up to a fifth of the blood plasma volume can enter the intestine. The result is the racing heart immediately after eating.
  • Late dumping:
    Late dumping is the result of the shortened passage time of food through the stomach and the sudden arrival in the small intestine, namely that enormous amounts of carbohydrates are suddenly absorbed and lead to an excessive release of insulin, which in turn leads to a reduction in blood sugar levels and even hypoglycaemia brings itself.
    As a counter-regulation to hypoglycaemia, the body releases various hormones, including adrenaline, which is responsible for increasing the heart rate. Late dumping usually occurs two to three hours after eating.

Since there are other clinical pictures that are responsible for an excessive release of insulin, these also cause palpitations after eating. One of the triggers is, for example, the temporarily increased release of insulin in the early phase of type II diabetes. Symptoms also occur if the islet cells of the pancreas are enlarged or if the tumor produces insulin.

An overactive thyroid can also trigger a racing heart. Here, however, the symptoms of increased metabolic activity are not necessarily linked to food intake, but can be present independently of it.

Roemheld syndrome can also be cited as a cause of palpitations after eating. This syndrome describes an increased accumulation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract, which is caused by certain foods or food in large quantities, and exerts pressure on the diaphragm and the heart at the same time. This pressure causes pain and can sometimes be responsible for racing your heart.

You can find a lot more information on this topic at: Causes of the racing heart

Due to psychological causes

In the case of psychological causes for cardiac arrhythmias after eating, psychosomatic clinical pictures are usually considered. For example, the racing heart can express a somatoform disorder. The patient has an inner psychological conflict with eating, which manifests itself in this way. Furthermore, a psychosomatic illness would also be conceivable, in which the patient develops his own theory of illness, which connects eating with the occurring cardiac arrhythmias.

Furthermore, an anxiety disorder could arise from this, which is characterized by fearful expectations, in the sense of a "self-fulfilling prophecy", the person concerned is then afraid that the food could cause rhythm disturbances again and so increases his fear that it is caused by fear increased heartbeat or even a racing heart.

After greasy food

Cardiac arrhythmias that can be traced back explicitly to fatty foods are hardly known to experts. On the other hand, food containing carbohydrates - especially in people who have undergone gastric surgery - can lead to the withdrawal of large amounts of fluid from the blood into the intestine. The body may react to this with tachycardia or cardiac arrhythmias. However, this condition is not yet known for fatty foods.

Caffeinated food components such as coffee or tea are also among the causes that cause palpitations after eating.

You can find detailed information on this topic at: Palpitations after eating

Therapy and Treatment

For the therapy of the tachycardia through early dumping, it is recommended to distribute the meals in small portions over the day and to ensure a low sugar content. In many cases the symptoms will reduce on their own about a month after the gastric surgery. If the palpitations and the remaining symptoms, such as heavy sweating and nausea, persist, the doctor may consider another gastric operation.

The content of the late dumping therapy is a planned, carbohydrate-rich snack between meals approx. Two to three hours after the last meal. This intercepts the increased release of insulin and the racing heart subsides. Medicinal products that reduce the parasympathetic effect can help, since they slow down the activity of the digestive tract and can keep the extent of a dumping syndrome small.

If there is a further increased release of insulin that causes palpitations, the cause must be treated. For example, if the pancreas has islet cell enlargement, a drug that selectively opens potassium channels can be used to reduce the release of insulin. In the case of an insulin-producing tumor, tumor removal is recommended in addition to the drug mentioned.

If you have an overactive thyroid, you have to work with drugs that downregulate the production of hormones, or with radioiodine therapy to reduce the functional thyroid tissue. Diet adjustment in the event of intolerance or flatulence can also be recommended for therapy. In any case, if your heart palpitations, you should consult a specialist doctor who can consider further therapeutic measures. In some cases, therapy is not necessary, but this must be decided by a doctor who can better assess the situation.

Duration of the heart racing

Palpitations or cardiac arrhythmias close to food are usually only short-lived from a few minutes to a maximum of several hours. It cannot be assumed that larger portions of food also lead to cardiac arrhythmias that last for a longer period of time or that the composition suggests that in the long run. Rather, it is the susceptibility of every person to develop arrhythmias, which on the one hand determines how it develops and then also on the duration.

Palpitations and shortness of breath

On the one hand, shortness of breath can occur when the chyme gets into the windpipe instead of the esophagus. However, this circumstance is characterized by coughing attacks and a feeling of suffocation.

Another possibility of shortness of breath is what is known as angina pectoris. A typical accompanying symptom of a heart attack, which is characterized by the fact that those affected have the feeling that there is a heavy load on their chest. Here, too, it is difficult for those affected to breathe; it can even reach fear of suffocation.

Racing heart and alcohol

Alcohol is a food-independent and also a much greater risk factor for the development of a racing heart. Studies have shown that people with increased alcohol levels have more cardiac arrhythmias than sober people.

However, not every consumption of alcohol leads to arrhythmias in everyone. Furthermore, the consumption of alcohol and the consumption of food mean that a relatively large amount of the body's blood has to be used for digestion and alcohol breakdown. In extreme cases, this can lead to insufficient blood flow to the heart, which can then lead to cardiac arrhythmias.

Read more about the topic: Palpitations after alcohol

Is it dangerous to have a racing heart after eating?

If there is no severe drop in blood pressure or shock in the heartbeat, it is not dangerous in and of itself. It is important to find out why the heart is racing. The underlying disease should definitely be treated. If the palpitations occur regularly after eating and are accompanied by other symptoms, a diagnosis should be made with your family doctor.


A diagnosis of palpitations after eating can be worked out in the first step through a detailed anamnesis, so to speak, a questioning of the patient's symptoms, previous illnesses, previous operations, medication intake and the like. This is where initial indications of possible causes for the racing heart can be given, such as gastric surgery or an impending type II diabetes. In this context, an ECG recording is also useful to rule out heart disease. In addition, the blood can be examined, especially the Hemoglobin level (Man), so-called Heart enzymes, Thyroid levels and blood sugar under certain conditions can be helpful for diagnosis.


The prognosis for palpitations after eating is quite good. Above all, dumping syndromes can be brought under control through spontaneous regression or dietary adjustments. Even after successful treatment of the other causes, such as type II diabetes, Hyperinsulinism and hyperthyroidism, the prognosis is good.


In the case of dumping syndromes, palpitations after eating can be prevented by small meals spread over the day or additional carbohydrate intake after the meal. Prophylaxis can also be carried out by observing the underlying causes, such as diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism.

What role does histamine play?

Histamine is a messenger substance in the human body and is found particularly in reactions of the immune system. However, there are also foods that contain high levels of histamine. Mainly these are meat or dairy products that have been stored for a long time or that have been smoked.

This is not a problem as long as the person does not have what is known as histamine intolerance syndrome. If this is the case, the ingestion of the histamine leads to a kind of allergic reaction that can lead to cardiac arrhythmias. However, this circumstance is then additionally characterized by itching, breathing difficulties and possibly a drop in blood pressure.

Palpitations after eating and thyroid gland

If the thyroid gland is overactive, the activity of the Metabolism and the organs. This phenomenon also occurs when the dose of thyroid hormones is too high. Symptoms that can be caused are, for example, increased nervousness, restlessness, profuse sweating, weight loss, but also palpitations. This can occur after eating, but typically also in other contexts and at rest. In any case, this should be clarified by a doctor in order to bring the hormonal situation back into balance, for example through a Radioiodine therapy. Regular monitoring of the thyroid parameters in the blood is recommended.

Palpitations after eating during pregnancy

Palpitations after eating in pregnancy are mostly associated with one Dumping syndrome or a humiliated one Blood sugar level on.
The dumping syndrome arises in most cases in women who have had an operation at a young age Stomach reduction owing to Obesity had.

The shortened passage of the chyme through the stomach can lead to increased Water movement towards the intestinal lumen or towards the reinforced Insulin release and consequently to symptoms like that Racing heart after eating. A blood sugar level that is too low can also trigger palpitations. Women are particularly at risk of having Type I diabetes in the first trimester of pregnancy, but also with other types of diabetes, if the blood sugar is only insufficiently controlled by the physical changes during pregnancy. As a countermeasure, can sugar can be given in various forms. With such problems in pregnancy you should definitely get one doctor be consulted.

Palpitations after eating and diabetes

In the early phase of type II diabetes mellitus, increased insulin release can briefly occur, which can result in hypoglycaemia and then cause symptoms such as palpitations after eating. The incorrect use of certain drugs for the treatment of type II diabetes mellitus can lead to hypoglycaemia and corresponding symptoms. Regular measurement of the blood sugar level and the long-term value, as well as efficient treatment, would make sense doctorto avoid low blood sugar, which can be very dangerous.

Palpitations after eating and the heart

When it comes to after eating Dumping syndrome come and water gets into the intestinal lumen for osmotic reasons, it comes to Drop in blood pressure and reflexively to the increase in pulse. This works via so-called Pressure receptorsthat sit in arterial blood vessels, for example, and register and react to the pressure of the blood flowing past. When the blood sugar level is too low, various hormones are released to counterregulate it. Among other things, we also release adrenaline, which causes an increased heart rate in the heart via ß1 receptors. This leads to a racing heart after eating. Elevated thyroid hormones make the heart more sensitive to stimulating hormones, which in turn can trigger palpitations.