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Rapid Heartbeat - after eating, during pregnancy, Causes and Treatment

Updated on December 31, 2013

What is Rapid heartbeat?

Rapid heartbeat, increased heart rate and tachycardia are all the same in context. This sign usually refers to an underlying condition or may be caused by some factors but would not indicate a disease. This is characterized by the increased heartbeat or heart rate of a person usually accompanied by some symptoms. The heartbeat is not in the normal range from what is usual in a person. But take note, a heart rate varies from one person to another. Others may have a normal slow heart rate while others normally have a borderline heart rate. Resting and doing physical activities can affect ones heart rate in all cases.

Causes

Aside from medical conditions, there are causative factors or agents for a rapid heart rate:


The usual intake of caffeine can be pointed out as a cause. Drunkards or those who excessively take alcohol can cause them a rapid heartbeat. Sometimes, this condition can be a side effect of some drugs. Common drugs are anticholinergics, digoxin, sympathomimetic drugs, and thyroid pills. Sometimes when a person is in pain, he/she usually experiences tachycardia. Smoking is a very common cause of a rapid heart rate. Cigarette contains nicotine which is the primary culprit for causing a fast heartbeat. The body is stimulated as you digest nicotine, causing for heightened body reactions triggered for the brain to work. At times of shock, stress and anxiety the body compensates and as adrenaline flows in our body as we react, our heart rate increases.


Conditions that are causing a person to experience tachycardia are to be treated immediately. These conditions need prompt medical intervention so not to reach its peak level and result it to another life-threatening state.


Cardiovascular disease such as hypertension, congenital heart disease, coronary heart disease, or heart valves dysfunction can predispose you to have tachycardia. These conditions should be treated accordingly and strict medical interventions should be done. Another life-endangering condition is dehydration with electrolyte imbalance. This may sound very simple but once you lack some electrolytes, the body can come to its worse. Low potassium in the blood can alter your heart rate. The lower your potassium is, the slower your heart beat. Opposite to that, high amounts of potassium can result to a rapid heartbeat. Hyperthyroidism manifests many symptoms including rapid heartbeat in the list. This condition causes the body to be in an overactive state. This explains why tachycardia is manifested when you have hyperthyroidism. Drug abuse can also cause a rapid heartbeat. These tachycardia-causing drugs are cocaine, methamphetamine and LSD. This symptom is usually found to drug addicts and abusers.

Treatment

In the treatment course for this condition, it is first recommended that you consult your doctor. By this action, underlying causes can be treated thus removing the symptom tachycardia. If you have a known condition of the heart, present it to your healthcare provider. Make sure you give out an honest medical history to your doctor.


Quit smoking, that’s one of the best alternatives. Reduce caffeine in the diet and alcohol consumption. Regular exercise can help regulate ones heart rate too. When in shock, anxious or stressed out, the use of relaxation techniques would be a great help to you. Do not miss any of medications that are indicated for your condition. The more you take part of your treatment, the easier your life can be.


The doctor may prescribe these medications indicated to your state:


ACE inhibitors - commonly given to patients with a cardiovascular disease.


Beta-blockers – helps in slowing down your heart rate.


Calcium channel blockers – this treats chest pain along with tachycardia.


Digitalis – its action is to slow down the heart rate.


Diuretics – usually given to patient with hypertension.


Anxiolytics – this combats anxiety attacks thus relieving tachycardia.

At Night

Rapid heart rate at night can be linked to the condition acid reflux. Once you sleep without head elevation, you may experience this. Indigestion is also a factor that can trigger a person to have tachycardia at night. Usually rapid heartbeat is accompanied by shortness of breath that explains why your inappropriate position in bed contributes to fast heartbeat.


When you have anxiety attacks at night, heart palpitations are expected and night sweats too. So better use your relaxation techniques whenever possible. When heading to sleep, have 2-3 bulky pillows so to facilitate head elevation.

During pregnancy

The increased heart rate of pregnant women is a normal mechanism of the body. Usually the mother’s blood volume is increased by 40 to 50% which is common in the third trimester. This is a compensatory mechanism that assists also in the nourishment of the baby inside the womb and can return back to normal after giving birth.


But in instances like underlying heart conditions; the mother is advised to consult a cardiologist to take action for this condition. Once the rapid heart rate is accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, increased pain or other adverse symptoms, visiting your doctor is a must.

After eating

Palpitations or rapid heartbeat is experienced by some people after eating. This fast heart beating will either be pounding or not, depending on the individual involved. This state only happens too after eating a heavy meal or eating hastily. But there are some particular meals that can cause palpitations if eaten too much:

  • Meals rich in sugar or fat
  • Foods high in MSG (monosodium glutamate), nitrates and sodium – processed foods
  • Foods that contain stimulants

The more sugar you consume, the greater chances of having an increased heart beat. This is explained by the surging of your adrenaline in the body. This phenomenon can sometimes be sleep-depriving. In occasion, difficulty in breathing and indigestion follows when there is great intake of sugar. This rapid heartbeat would usually reach up to 120 beats a minute, lasting to hours making you more worried at the same time.


But take note, this condition is not to be directly related to a heart ailment. This can be from another condition like heartburn due to gastro esophageal reflux disease or simply known as GERD.

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    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 3 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Thank you for an interesting and well researched article. If I may I would like to add one additional cause.

      When I was in my mid teens I suffered quite frequent occasions when my heart rate would increase to 220-250 bpm for no apparent reason. Guys hospital in London ran some tests and found I have a second trigger spot in the heart which can cause the muscle contract signal to bounce from one to the other. This can last from a few minutes to eight hours. I am 67 now and the condition was controlled without drama by beta blockers.

      It can be a frightening experience but very rarely life threatening.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

      Kind regards Peter

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