How can caffeine affect heart palpitations? 

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant which triggers the sympathetic nervous system. It is commonly found in coffee, tea, green tea, chocolate, nuts, and cola. 

What is the mechanism?

Caffeine metabolic effects are as following:

1. It stimulates the central nervous system

2. It releases free fatty acids form fatty tissue

3. It affects the kidneys, increasing urination which can lead to dehydration.

Caffeine is the most common drug used by the modern society. Almost 90% of the world population uses it. Its peak effect is one hour after taking it, but some of its effects can last from 4 to 6 hours.

Caffeine and heart palpitations are related to each other.

Caffeine is a well-know stimulant of the sympathetic nervous system. Its stimulation causes an increase of the heart rate, which can be perceived as palpitations.

It also increases the neuronal activity in the brain, which is perceived as an emergency situation by the pituitary gland, causing thus, the release of adrenaline from the adrenal glands. Adrenaline is a stress neurotransmitter, which can cause palpations by triggering the sympathetic nervous system.

Caffeine is a mildly addictive drug and its use is not linked with serious health problems.

How to overcome caffeine heart palpitations?

Having too much caffeine can cause heart palpitations, regardless of the way it is taken (as beverage, as drinks or as meds).

The most effective way of treating caffeine heart palpitations is cutting the intake of caffeine is larger doses than 300mg.

In overcoming caffeine heart palpitations, some simple techniques can be very helpful:

1.    Breathing - the 4-7-8 breathing technique is very effective. The method consist in breathing through the nose for 4 seconds, holding breath for 7 seconds and releasing the breath through the mouth for 8 seconds making a “whooshing” sound. And then repeating the cycle until feeling better.

2.    Drinking cold water might be very helpful.

3.    Valsalva maneuver - It is an attempt to breathe with both mouth and nose closed. This will increase the pressure inside the chest, and will stabilize the heart rate.

4.    Coughing - it also is useful. The mechanism it relieves caffeine heart palpitations is the same as Valsalva maneuver.

5.    Beta blockers- If the patient finds heart palpitations intolerable, beta blocker drugs are to be used. They block the beta receptors found in the heart that are triggered by adrenaline. By blocking the receptors, beta blockers can potentially reduce palpitations.

What else to consider?

Caffeine heart palpitations are benign palpitations, with no potential risk to the health. They do not last long, and leave no consequences after they are gone. But, there are some things that must be taken into consideration.

But because of the fact that palpitations can be associated with some serious health problems, having them must be considered a serious condition until proven otherwise.

The first thing to be excluded is hyperthyroidism. This can be done by measuring TSH levels in the blood. If TSH is within normal ranges, hyperthyroidism is excluded.

Other cause of heart palpitations are organic diseases of the heart. They can me diagnosed by making some tests like ECG, Holter, cardiac-ECHO, stress test etc.

If the results of these tests are normal, than the palpitations are benign and are surely caused by the excess intake of caffeine.

Caffeine heart palpitations may be very risky in a person with prior heart arrhythmias. In this case, an urgent visit do the doctor is necessary. 

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