The number of times your heart beats in a minute when you are at rest is your normal or resting heart rate. It is expressed in Beats Per Minute (bpm). While performing high intensity exercises, you must have noticed that the heart starts pounding as the demand for blood and oxygen from the body increases significantly. Healthy adults (for example, athletes) may have lower than normal heart rate. It is a sign of an efficient heart. But, usually, abnormally low and high heart rate indicate a problem in blood circulation or reduced function of the heart. Any interruption in the electrical impulses that make the heart contract can result in irregular heartbeat, which is described as 'arrhythmia'.
Causes of Arrhythmia after Meals
The normal heart rate for children above 10 and adults is 60-100 bpm. Irregular heartbeat causes include excessive exercise, high body temperature, anxiety, diseases, excessive consumption of diet pills, use of certain medications, caffeine, cocaine, nicotine, a heavy meal, etc. High heart rate is referred to as tachycardia and abnormally slow heart rate is referred to as bradycardia. Generally, people with circulatory problem or heart problem experience a rapid heartbeat after eating. As you eat, a large amount of blood is diverted to your digestive tract. Your body immediately reacts to this situation and tries to maintain the normal blood pressure by increasing your heart rate and constricting certain blood vessels. But failure of this mechanism may lead to postprandial hypo-tension (low blood pressure after eating). Older adults generally experience arrhythmia after meals. People with high blood pressure or autonomic nervous system disorders like Parkinson's disease, may experience arrhythmia after eating. The causes and symptoms of the disorder may vary from person to person.
Some people suffer from rapid heartbeat only at night; while some notice irregular heartbeat only after eating sugar. Some develop tachycardia after eating processed food; while some experience heart palpitations after eating food high in sodium or saturated fat. Insufficient intake of water makes your blood thick and the heart has to work harder to pump the blood. Dysfunction of any endocrine gland, digestive system problems, excessive intake of caffeine or other stimulants, problem with the vagus nerve which is shared by both, the heart and the stomach can result in irregular heartbeat after consumption of food. Not only heart and lung diseases but hiatus hernia, acid reflux disease can also cause arrhythmia after eating. In some rare cases, liver or kidney damage has been found to be responsible for abnormal heart rate after eating. People with high pulse rate at rest may experience arrhythmia after eating.
Those diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, anemia, coronary artery disease (blocked arteries in the heart), heart injury (may be due to a heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, changes in the heart muscle and people undergoing chemotherapy or those recovering from heart surgery are likely to suffer from abnormal heart rate after intake of food.
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty breathing
- Tightness in the chest
- Chest pain
- General discomfort
- Dizziness or fainting
- Bloating, indigestion
- Profound sweating
- Excessive fatigue
- Confusion, loss of concentration
- Low blood pressure, lightheadedness
Treatment for irregular heart rate after eating depends upon the cause. Correct diagnosis helps plan the correct treatment. Those who experience irregular heartbeat or palpitations after eating, should watch what triggers them. You should consult with your doctor immediately and inform him about your eating habits, diseases and disorders you have been diagnosed with and routine medications. For the elderly, the doctor may lower the dose of blood pressure drugs or diuretics. Eating small, low-carbohydrate meals generally helps reduce the symptoms. Low fat and low sugar meals are good for all. You should include 'good fats' in your meals. You should have your dinner at least 3 hours before going to sleep. Avoiding late night dinners, heavy dinners can help lower the symptoms. Avoiding smoking, alcohol abuse, use of drugs, excessive consumption of antidepressants, drinking plenty of plain water instead of tea, coffee or soda can help reduce the symptoms. Green tea works great for irregular heartbeat after eating.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should consult your doctor for correct and prompt treatment. Never take over-the-counter medicine for heart problem. The doctor can help you lead a healthy life. This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.