Normal heart rate lies within the range 60-100 beats per minute. It is normal for the heart rate to increase in many occasions especial during exercise. When you exercise your muscles require extra blood that's why the heart increases its rate to meet the extra needs.
After a meal your stomach has to digest the food. The stomach is a muscle and it requires extra amount of blood to work, that's why it is normal to have a slightly higher than normal heart rate after meals.
Another possible cause for increased heart rate is anxiety. When you are worried about something or you are in a stressful or dangerous situation a hormone called adrenaline is increased in your bloodstream, this hormones job is to protect your body from danger. One of the multiple effects of this hormone is to increase the heart rate so there is enough blood for your arms muscles in case you decided to fight or enough blood for your heart muscles in case you want to flight.
All the situations described above are normal physiological reactions and happens in every single one of us.
Usually physiological increase in heart rate goes unnoticeable; that's why if you feel very strong or very fast heart beats your physician will be concerned about tachycardia or other abnormal heart rhythms. There are many conditions that cause increased heart rate and abnormal heart rhythm. These conditions should be assessed by a physician and often treated with lifestyle modification or medication.
Causes of high heart rate exclusively after meals
- Heavy meals that are high in sodium and saturated fat can make your blood as a result your heart needs to beat faster.
- Some foods have high concentration of additives, some of these additives can increase make your heart rate.
- Consumption of food or drink that contains caffeine or other stimulants such as coffee, tea, energy drinks... etc.
- Dysfunction of the nerve responsible for innervations of both the stomach and the heart. As a result of this dysfunction meals increase the pressure on stomach walls which stimulates the nerve which in turn stimulates the heart.
- Rarely tachycardia after meals can be caused by liver or kidney damage.
- There are many other causes of tachycardia that is not specifically after meals these are out of the scope of this answer.
Tips to improve tachycardia after meals
We recommend visiting your physician who will most likely ask you to wear a special monitor for one or two days to assess the tachycardia and rule out dangerous heart rhythms. Your doctor will then decide whether to treat you with medication or just give you some tips to modify your lifestyle to decrease your tachycardia.
Some tips may help decrease tachycardia associated with meals. You would better eat several small meals than one large meal. Avoid tobacco, alcohol, tea, coffee and soda. Keep track of the food you consume and try to find out which type of food increases your heart rate.
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