ZocdocAnswersWhy does my heart race after I eat certain foods?

Question

Why does my heart race after I eat certain foods?

I am a 55-year old woman with no history of heart problems. For the past few months, I've noticed that, immediately after eating, my heart sometimes begins to race and/or feel like it's beating exceptionally hard. But it doesn't happen all the time. For example, when I eat oatmeal, my heart beats so hard that my shirt above my heart area visibly moves up and down. After a few trials with oatmeal, I have ceased eating it. Should I be concerned? Or should I just stay away from any foods that cause this reaction?

Answer

This is a strange symptom, and I am not sure what is going on. I can understand feeling like your heart is racing after ingesting beverages with caffeine in them, for example, but what you are describing doesn't sound like that. I think you will need to talk to your primary care doctor, because the symptoms are vague and need to be teased out and a physical exam performed. In preparation for that appointment, the best two ideas that I have regarding what might be going on are the following: 1. You may be developing low blood sugar after eating. Some people have an exaggerated release of insulin following the ingestion of certain foods, especially carbohydrates. This can sometimes also be the result of a underlying endocrine problem. Other symptoms might include feeling faint, dizziness, vision changes, and sweating. Your doctor can help you sort this out. 2. You may develop some gastroesophageal reflux (acid release from the stomach into the esophagus, heartburn) following a meal. The acid irritation of the esophagus may provoke an unpleasant sensation in the chest as if your heart was racing. Start by setting up an appointment with your primary care doctor to determine if this needs further workup.

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