How long can heart palpitations last from caffeine?

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Does caffeine cause heart palpitations? Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

With over 700, 000 Americans experiencing a heart attack every year, it shouldn’t surprise any of us that people have lots of questions that they need answering. That is over one in five adult Americans.

And one set of questions relate to the link between chest pains, heart surgery and heart attacks and coffee. Is coffee a help or a hindrance to a healthy heart?

Well in this post, I find out.

How long can heart palpitations last from caffeine?

Some may claim that caffeine has nothing to do heart palpitations, but we actually know better. And if caffeine has nothing to do with heart palpitations, then why does it feel like your heart is about to explode after drinking several cups of coffee? 😏

Coffee is a stimulant – because it contains large amounts of caffeine – and that’s why most people drink it. The beverage stimulates the nervous system causing you to stay awake, become more alert and fuelled with enough energy to keep working even when ordinarily you should be tired. 

And like most other stimulants, caffeine affects the muscles, the brain and also the heart. Caffeine has lots of health benefits, we all know that. But we also know that excess caffeine consumption can cause very unpleasant side effects and one of those is irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations

When you drink coffee, the caffeine in it stimulates the nervous system. This prompts the body to release energy to your muscles, increase your mental alertness and increase blood flow which causes your heart to beat faster and pump more blood. Most times, you’ll be completely oblivious to these changes but sometimes you can feel your heart beating much faster than normal, fluttering, racing or pounding. This racing or extra fast beating of the heart are the feelings of heart palpitations.

Heart palpitations usually last from a few seconds to a few minutes and they are nothing you should worry about because after a very short time, your heartbeat will return to normal. And if you drink more coffee than usual and feel your heart beating too fast, this should stop in a few minutes.

Different people react differently to caffeine. For some people, drinking a few cups of coffee a day will not cause any heart fluttering but for some others, drinking just one cup of coffee containing about 100mg of caffeine will make their heart race like they just finished a thousand meter race, this mostly happens to people with low caffeine tolerance.

Although heart palpitations are nothing to worry about, but if they persist or are accompanied by other symptoms like dizziness or chest pain, then you should get to a hospital ASAP because this could be a sign of some serious heart condition.

Decaffeinated coffee after heart surgery

Should you drink decaf coffee straight after heart surgery? Photo by JAFAR AHMED on Unsplash

If you’re a coffee lover but also a heart disease patient who just underwent heart surgery – or you know someone who did – and now you’re wondering if you can continue enjoying your favourite beverage right after the surgery.

Okay, I’ll give you my two cents on that. Decaf coffee contains only very little caffeine and it may seem harmless but it may not be the best beverage to drink right after heart surgery

If you just came out of heart surgery and you want to quickly start living like you used to because you feel it will help you recover faster, then I strongly suggest you ask your doctor about it. Your doctor’s advice is the best thing to do, you can trust me on this because I’m sure you don’t want to jeopardize your recovery process or even worse, put your life at risk. 

Even if someone else says they drink coffee and it’s fine, that shouldn’t make you drink it too because everyone is different. Your condition may or may not be different from theirs but your body is definitely different from theirs. 

So, if you want to drink decaf coffee or even regular coffee after a heart surgery, ask your doctor about it. That would save you from getting into trouble.

Is coffee good for heart patients?

Is ordinary coffee any good for heart patients? Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

You may have heard that coffee can be great for the heart because it contains caffeine which can stimulate the nervous system, improve blood flow and decrease the risk of certain heart diseases, well that’s true. 

But this piece of information is usually directed to healthy people with healthy hearts and not much has been said about the effect of coffee – or you can say caffeine – on people with certain heart conditions. And that’s what has prompted the question; is coffee good for heart patients?

Ideally a person with an unhealthy heart should stay away from any form of stimulant, and since caffeine is the major component of coffee and a very powerful stimulant it only makes sense for heart patients to avoid coffee. And even many doctors advice their heart patients to avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages.

But considering the rich and satisfying taste of coffee, plus it’s been considered a superfood due it’s amazing number of health benefits including the ability to improve heart health and decrease the risk of several cardiovascular diseases, is it really fair for heart patients to restrict coffee from their diet. And will drinking coffee affect them negatively? 

Over the years, there has been a series of research to find out the relationship between coffee consumption and mortality among heart patients but the results have been conflicting, with some showing no effect while others showed a reduced risk of mortality. 

To provide a more accurate result, a group of Dutch researchers conducted a more extensive study on 4,365 patients who have had at least one heart attack previously. The results of this study showed that among these heart patients, those who drank between 2 to 4 cups of coffee a day were 20-30% less likely to die from cardiovascular diseases and ischemic heart disease than those who drank between 0 to 2 cups daily. Quite surprising, isn’t it?

This study proves that coffee is safe for heart patients and may even be good for them, and it’s probably because of the polyphenols it contains – and not really the caffeine. So if you have a heart condition and miss your daily dose of caffeine from coffee or you know someone with a heart condition, feel free to drink caffeinated coffee and you can share the good news with your friends.

Is decaf coffee good for your heart?

Is decaf

The controversies surrounding the effect of regular coffee on heart health can leave you confused and bewildered. But what of decaf coffee? How does it affect the heart?

If you’re more than a casual consumer of decaf coffee, it may interest you to know that just like regular coffee, decaf coffee also has a number of unpleasant effects on the health and one of them is connected to the heart.

Over the last decade, caffeinated coffee has been accused of some really unpleasant things while decaf has been seen as the good guy. But decaf isn’t entirely good and it has nothing to do with caffeine.

Studies have revealed that decaf coffee has some life threatening side effects, which is quite shocking. Decaf coffee can cause some cardiovascular complications including increased risk of heart disease. It can also increase the level of bad cholesterol in the body which can contribute to some severe heart conditions. 

According to a study presented to the American Heart Association, decaf coffee may have harmful effects on the heart because it has the tendency to increase the level of apolipoprotein B in the body and this substance is a component of LDL cholesterol. LDL stands for low-density lipoproteins and when this substance is present in the blood in high quantities, they tend to form plaques. 

A build-up of these plaques in the arteries cause the arteries to harden and become narrower, this makes it difficult for blood to flow freely from these arteries to the heart. And since the arteries carry oxygen-containing blood to the heart, if they become narrower, the heart will get less blood and less oxygen. And this inadequate supply of oxygen to the heart causes chest pain (angina). 

If the blood  LDL cholesterol is really high and the plaque build-up continues to increase, eventually blocking the arteries and totally cutting off blood supply to the heart, this will cause a heart attack.

All these are really scary especially for regular decaf drinkers. But wait a minute, why is this terrible side effect peculiar to only decaf coffee? Since it’s not the caffeine, why shouldn’t regular coffee drinkers be worried too? To answer these questions researchers analyzed regular coffee beans and decaf coffee beans and found that they are not the same. 

Apparently, decaf coffee is made from a different kind of beans, and this coffee is the Robusta beans. While regular caffeinated coffee is made from Arabica beans. This is because the decaffeination process extracts the coffee flavour from the beans and Robusta beans are more strongly flavoured than Arabica beans. 

So for decaf coffee, Robusta beans is more ideal as it will retain some of the coffee flavours after the decaffeination process. But unfortunately, Robusta beans have higher fat content which isn’t ideal for the heart.

Can decaf coffee cause heart palpitations?

Can drinking decaf coffee cause heart palpitations? Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

So, it’s called decaf coffee which is short for decaffeinated coffee; meaning coffee without caffeine in it. But we all know decaf coffee still contains small amounts of caffeine because it has just about 97% of the caffeine in it removed. Right. 

But can that very little amount of caffeine make your heart beat faster?

Irregular beating of the heart (also known as heart palpitations) is usually caused by intense physical exertion and stressful activities like sports but drinks like alcohol and caffeinated beverages (e.g coffee) can also make your heartbeat increase, since they can stimulate the nervous system.

The amount of caffeine in a 16-ounce serving of decaf coffee can be as high as 13.9 milligrams or as low as 8.6 milligrams and in contrast to the 170-200 milligrams of caffeine in the same amount of regular coffee, this is pretty small. But don’t let this fool you because this can add up really quickly especially if you drink several cups in a day.

Heart palpitations from decaf coffee is actually very unlikely but not impossible. And if you consume extremely large amounts of the beverage, the amount of caffeine in your bloodstream can quickly rise and cause your heart to beat much faster than usual.  

People with low caffeine tolerance are especially sensitive to the presence of caffeine in their bodies and as low as 100mg of caffeine can stimulate their nervous system, increase blood flow and make their heart palpitate or beat faster than usual.

So yes, decaf coffee may cause heart palpitations but it depends on the amount of caffeine it contains, how much of the beverage you consumed and your body’s sensitivity to caffeine. If you have low caffeine tolerance and drink too much decaf coffee, you may experience a fluttering or pounding in your chest and it may feel like your heart is racing. But have no fear, the feeling will disappear in a few minutes and your heartbeat will return to normal.

Is caffeinated coffee bad for you?

Did you know?

That coffee is the most consumed non-alcoholic beverage in the world with over one billion cups consumed every day, while caffeine is most consumed stimulant in the world and on average approximately 300mg is taken daily by just one person – in the US alone.

Despite this large consumption of caffeinated coffee worldwide, it’s health benefits still has many controversies around it. While some studies claim that drinking between 2 to 4 cups of regular coffee daily will reduce the risk of several diseases and even prolong your life, some other studies claim that, the presence of that much caffeine in the body system will definitely have negative health effects.

To be honest, coffee isn’t that bad and it can do a lot of amazing things to the body, it can also do a lot of terrible things to a person’s health. What coffee will do to your health depends on the amount you drink and your body’s sensitivity to caffeine. 

According to Mayoclinic, up to 400mg of caffeine a day is okay for the average adult human and this equals about 4 cups of brewed coffee. But what if you’re not average, but different. If you’re body is sensitive to caffeine, you’ll need much less, maybe about 100mg daily or even less.

When taken right, caffeinated coffee can be an excellent addition to your diet and even with the confusion we know it really has some amazing health because this has been proven by countless studies. 

Let’s review some of the health benefits of regular coffee;

It can reduce the risk of several life-threatening diseases:

Researchers have found that coffee can decrease the risk of several diseases, and not so long studies showed that coffee contains a substance that protects the body against liver cirrhosis. And drinking four cups of coffee daily can lower the risk of developing cirrhosis by 84%. While another study showed that a daily intake of coffee can decrease the risk of liver cancer by up to 40%. 

Studies have also shown that coffee lowers the risk of Parkinson’s disease and it also lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by about 65%. Drinking coffee is also a great way to reduce the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases, prevent type 2 diabetes because coffee promotes insulin sensitivity, and  reduce the risk of mouth and throat cancer.

It can stimulate the nervous system and increase your alertness:

Coffee contains large amounts of caffeine which stimulates the nervous system and can increase the levels of adrenaline in the body. Adrenaline is a hormone which prepares the body for fight or flight and it improves your physical strength and alertness.

It can improve brain function, increase the body’s metabolism and trigger weight loss:

The caffeine in coffee can inhibit a brain hormone called adenosine and in doing this, it increases activity in the brain and triggers the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine – these hormones make you feel more alert. Caffeine also boosts brain function and cognition. 

The presence of caffeine in the bloodstream increases the rate at which the body burns fat and metabolizes food, and this triggers weight loss.

It contains amazing amounts of antioxidants and other essential nutrients:

Coffee is a good way to supply the body with essential nutrients as it contains many vitamins and minerals including; vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. Coffee contains more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables making it an excellent source of these amazing compounds.

Even with the many health benefits of coffee, it still has some terrible side effects, especially when consumed without caution. So, what are these side effects?

Coffee can cause insomnia and restlessness:

Drinking coffee without moderation and overloading your body with tonnes of caffeine can really make you very restless. Even in small amounts, caffeine can make you alert and keep you energized because it is a psychoactive substance (meaning it has the ability to stimulate the central nervous system). 

So when you consume too much caffeine, the effects go overboard and instead of keeping you alert and active, it makes you miserable. Excessive caffeine in the body can cause anxiety, heart palpitations, panic attacks, sleeplessness etc.

Coffee is addictive:

Another unpleasant side of coffee is that it can make you addicted to it. And this is no joke. When a person drinks caffeinated coffee regularly, the body develops a tolerance for it, making it less effective. 

And to get the same effects, a larger dose will be required and regular consumption will lead to some kind of caffeine dependency. This is when an individual becomes dependent on caffeine to function and missing as little as one cup will lead to caffeine withdrawal symptoms like headaches, extreme tiredness, foul mood, inability to focus, etc.

So, is caffeine good for you?

Caffeine affect individuals differently because some people are more sensitive to the substance than others. For instance, people who suffer from anxiety disorders will be more susceptible to the anxiogenic effects of caffeine and ideally such persons should stay away from caffeinated beverages. But apart from patients with anxiety disorder, such healthy individuals can be unusually sensitive to caffeine.

Also some people metabolize caffeine faster than others, and according to Medical News Today, smokers metabolize caffeine two times faster than non-smokers. Caffeine metabolism is also really slow in pregnant women, patients with liver diseases and kids.

But if you aren’t in any of the categories above, you can enjoy your daily cups of java – provided you keep it within healthy limits – without having any guilt and feeling like you’re ruining your life.

Chest pain after drinking coffee

When brewed right, coffee will give you some aromatic and mouth-watering flavours leaving you no option but to gulp it down, and the taste can be very rich and satisfying. But then what?

After you drink those irresistible cups of coffee do you feel like there’s a blazing furnace in your chest? 

Do you suffer from chest pains after drinking coffee? Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Frequent chest pain or heartburn may be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a condition where the contents of the stomach rise up into the esophagus (the tube that connects the throat to the stomach) because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) has become weak. 

The LES is a valve that opens to let food and drinks into the stomach, but if this valve grows weak and fails to close properly the acidic contents of the stomach will move up into the esophagus causing a burning sensation in the chest. This can be painful and unpleasant.

People who suffer from GERD are usually advised to avoid certain foods and beverages, especially those that may aggravate the symptoms and coffee and other caffeinated beverages are among drinks to be avoided. 

But the fact that coffee may cause chest pain or worsen the symptoms of GERD is not really clear because there is no scientific evidence to prove that.

Acid reflux, heartburn or chest pain can be very uncomfortable and even though there is no clear-cut scientific evidence to prove that coffee may be the culprit, if you suffer from GERD and feel like the symptoms worsen after you drink coffee then reducing your intake of the beverage or completely eliminating it from your diet may be a wise move on your part. 

Caffeine may not cause heartburn, but remember that it’s not the only substance in coffee. So if you feel your chest burning after drinking coffee, then you should reduce your intake. And if the symptoms persist, I advise you talk to your doctor about it.

Caffeine chest pain left side

Drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages may have some serious and unpleasant side effects but pain in the left side of your chest is not one of them. 

If you feel any form of pain in the left side of your chest, it could be due to any of the following;

  • Digestive problems
  • Angina
  • Heart attack
  • Panic attack
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung disease
  • Problem with the esophagus or any other health condition.

If there is an unusual pain in the left side of your chest, then you need to book an appointment with your doctor ASAP.

Caffeine chest pain right side

If you’re a perfectly healthy person, but just recently you started feeling this unusual pain in the right side of your chest and you fear it may be because of the coffee you drink.

Pain in the right side of your chest is due to a number of things and caffeine may not be one of those things. A wide variety of conditions like rib fracture, muscle strain, anxiety, lung disease, acid reflux, and many other things, may cause you to feel pain in the right side of your chest.

And it’s very unlikely that the pain is caused by caffeine. In fact, if you feel any unusual pain in your chest, whether it’s in the right side or the left side, the best thing you can do is to go visit a doctor ASAP. 

Caffeine withdrawal heart palpitations

Caffeine addiction is a real thing and the withdrawal symptoms are even worse. Drinking coffee can be really cool plus the health perks that come with it, but when you get carried away and start drinking too much of the beverage, that can be a bad thing.

Becoming addicted to coffee is actually easier than you may imagine because it only requires that you drink at least 4 cups of coffee daily until you practically become unable to function properly without it. 

And if you go for about 16 hours without at least one cup, you can get some of the withdrawal symptoms like headaches, difficulty concentrating, foul mood, extreme tiredness, dizziness, anxiety and in some cases tremors and heart palpitations.

These symptoms may be severe and make you unable to function. The best way to beat caffeine addiction and the terrible symptoms that accompany it not by suddenly quitting but by gradually cutting back on your caffeine intake. If you normally drink up to 6 cups, start drinking just 4 and gradually keep reducing the number of cups you drink in a day.

Also reduce the strength of the coffee you drink. You can do this by getting coffee beans that are weaker than what you normally take. Or you can brew less grounds with more water, that will reduce the caffeine content of the beverage.

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