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Why Does Coffee Make My Heart Palpitate?

author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Why Does Coffee Make My Heart Palpitate?
Coffee can have a stimulant effect on your heart. Photo Credit lisa combs/iStock/Getty Images

If you have just finished your morning cup of coffee, it’s not unusual to experience some initial symptoms like feeling jittery or experiencing heart palpitations. These palpitations may feel like your heart is racing, as if you cannot seem to control your heartbeat. Because coffee contains chemicals that have a stimulant effect, you can experience a number of symptoms, including changes in your heart function.

Coffee and Palpitations

Coffee contains caffeine, which is a natural stimulant to the body. When you drink caffeine, the central nervous system is stimulated. This causes symptoms like increased alertness, headaches, nervousness, heart palpitations and dizziness. People react to caffeine in different ways: Some do not experience any symptoms while others have a number of symptoms. Often how your react to caffeine has to do with how much you are accustomed to drinking. If you do not typically drink coffee and have several cups, you are more likely to experience heart palpitations.

Dangerous Dosage

While caffeine’s effects can cause your heart to beat faster, this effect is unlikely to cause health problems. This is because it would take 80 to 100 cups of coffee to cause a lethal dosage of caffeine. This means that for most people, when drinking coffee in moderation, coffee is not a dangerous substance although it can cause heart palpitations. However, coffee’s stimulant effects can cause you to have difficulty sleeping or upset your stomach, which can affect your overall health and well-being. If you have a complicating heart condition, such as angina or if you have experienced a heart attack, talk to your doctor about if you should refrain from drinking coffee or set a limit on your coffee consumption.

Kaiser Permanente Study

A 2010 Kaiser Permanente study of 130,054 adults tested the effects of coffee drinking and the likelihood of experiencing an irregular heartbeat. The study found that those who drank coffee four times or more per day were 18 percent less likely to experience an irregular heartbeat than those who did not drink coffee at all. Drinking one to three cups of coffee a day also had preventive effects. Moderate coffee drinkers were 7 percent less likely to experience an irregular heartbeat. The study findings do not necessarily indicate that coffee has a protective effect on the heart, just that it does not cause harmful effects on the heart, according to Dr. Arthur Klatsky, the study’s lead cardiologist.


Although coffee can have stimulant effects on your heart and body, drinking coffee can offer benefits, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. These include a reduced risk of developing diabetes, colon cancer and gallstones. Other conditions that coffee has a preventive effect on include liver and Parkinson’s disease.

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