Why Does Coffee Make My Heart Palpitate?

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.

Coffee can have a stimulant effect on your heart.
Credit: Valerii kosovskyi/iStock/GettyImages

Because coffee contains chemicals that have a stimulant effect, you can experience a number of symptoms, including changes in your heart function.

Tip

Some research indicates that drinking too much caffeinated coffee can lead to heart issues, including heart palpitations. Talk to your health care provider about your concerns.

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 you 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.

Read more: How Many Cups of Coffee Can You Drink a Day

Too Much Caffeine

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 summer 2011 Kaiser Permanente study of 130,054 adults published in the Permanente Journal 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.

Read more: 14 Legit Ways Coffee Can Boost Your Health

Some Benefits Too

Although coffee can have stimulant effects on your heart and body, drinking coffee can offer benefits, according to the Harvard Health Publishing. 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.

To get the health benefits from your coffee without the health consequences, the Mayo Clinic suggests you limit your intake to no more than four cups of coffee a day. This provides about 400 milligrams of caffeine, which is considered the safe upper limit of the stimulant.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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