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eat, then heart races like a horse

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I recently lost quite a bit of weight - going from 140 to 100 pounds - which is a little thin for my 5'4 frame. I think I consumed under 800 calories a day while I lost it and have managed to work it back up to 1000-1200 a day. Some days, I just get caught up in what I am doing or just simply don't have the time to eat much, so it can be about 500-600 calories a day! I know, this is horrible, but I'm only mentioning it so I can have somebody explain another side effect...

After I eat, especially grains and carbs, my BP goes NUTS. My heart races, my head pounds, and suddenly I want to shove everything in my face, and this can last for a few hours. This isn't every time I eat - more like after dinner. Even on my worst days I only consume 2000 calories total and feel like I swallowed a pound of rocks. It's not everyday either, sometimes I can go a week without it happening. What's going on?

Is this just an craving that I would fight off (like, journal, meditate, etc..) or is my body so far gone into starvation mode that it is pledging for food? How do I stop this without feeling completely sick by eating more? Should I talk to a doctor?

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If it's more of a fluttering feeling in your chest that comes and goes, or feels like a fish flopping around on top of your diaphragm, you may have A-fib (atrial fibrillation).  It's a common type of arrhythmia.  Vagal A-fib is where you feel it usually after eating or when you're at rest (maybe after exercising, for example).  You should get diagnosed so that it can be taken care of properly if that's what it is.  Don't worry...if it is A-fib, it's not something that will cause your heart to stop out of the blue for no apparent reason.  It's not that kind of condition.

The problem is that if you're not on medication to control the condition (if that is what you have), eventually you could have a stroke.  I'll try to explain why...  What happens when your heart flutters is that your blood kind of swirls around in circles inside your heart before it gets to move on to the rest of your body.  That causes some of it to pool in the corners of those little chambers in your heart.  The more often it's allowed to do that, the more blood platelets can stick in the corners of those chambers and eventually become big enough to break off and get stuck in your brain, causing a stroke.

Adrenergic A-fib usually follows exercise, stress, etc.  It's basically the same thing, but has different triggers.  With both of these types of A-fib though, a beta blocker (like the medication Toprol XL) isn't supposed to help, although a beta blocker seems to be the kind of medication people usually get put on for A-fib.  Just insist that, if you do have A-fib, your doctor (probably a cardiologist) narrows it down to exactly which kind you have.  Then do a lot of research online and make sure you get on the proper medication.  Here's a couple of links for you to read if you want: ib that will take you to the definition of Vagal A-fib, but the whole A-fib website is awesome ( ion

Btw, diagnosis is easy.  I think all they do is hook you up to a portable heart monitor for 24 hours.  Good luck!

On another note...  I gotta say that 100 pounds is not 'a little thin' for someone who's 5'4".  I'm 5'5" and my 'normal' weight is supposed to be 130-135.  Please try to shift your daily priorities and take better care of yourself.  People can 'forget' to turn off the oven, tie their shoes, feed the cat, etc, etc, etc.  But 'forgetting' to eat?  How is your body supposed to work properly?  Sometime when you have a few extra moments, grab a sandwich and some fruit...while you're snacking, do a little reading online about what things like your liver and kidneys do for your body.  If you're not giving your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs, you're going to have much bigger problems than a little fluttering in your heart.  I'm not trying to be critical; just honest.


I know that the weight needs to go up. I'm working on upping the calories, but thank you for the concern.

I'm definately going to look into this. My family has all sorts of heart problems, and since it sounds like this one is provoked by stress, it fits. I wish there was an easy way for me to tell at home. The fish example sounds about right! I'm going to be taking a vital signs course actually at the hospital soon (I'm interning), so I'm be able to tell me stats I guess, if I don't get into the doctor within a couple weeks.

Yeah, it's like a shot of pure adrenaline into my heart. It's supposed to be normal to get sleepy after eating, but I just want to run or something. My mom says I'm lucky - that won't happen when I'm older. ;)

I'm pretty sure the only way to diagnose it is to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours.  But if you feel like running when it happens, then maybe I was wrong...unless your body is just dealing with it differently.  Mine makes me feel like my heart is smacking the side of my left lung, which makes me light-headed and I feel like I have to catch my breath.  It also does it more when I lay on my left side, but not at all when I lay on my right side.  I was having symptoms for awhile, and finally found out what I had when I heard Barry Manilow on tv talking about his symptoms and that he's had this for years but never made it public.  I did a bunch of research and found out millions of other people have had the same symptoms as I had.

Who knows.  I'm not a doctor, but it does really sound to me like you have A-fib...or it could be some other arrhythmia that might be really dangerous.  I've had my stats taken many times at various doctor visits over the past year, and no doctor has ever suspected that I have it.  It doesn't show up on blood pressure, and if your heart is beating normal at the time a nurse is checking your pulse, she may not notice it either.  I'm kinda in a position where I'd rather not have it on my medical records because of what I do for a living, so I've done a lot of research, and I keep my stress low, take aspirin, and just generally try not to provoke it.  I also don't have health insurance, so I'm always afraid some doctor will try to put me on some medication I simply can't afford to be on long-term.

Your best bet is to just have it checked out, even if to rule out more dangerous conditions.  If it is A-fib, just keep in mind that with every 'episode' you have, you are one episode closer to having a stroke.  Then, if you survive, you'll have the pleasure of having someone wipe your heinie while you're relearning how to walk, talk, and feed yourself.  Sounds like great fun.  :)


about a year back, i would go hours without eating, then when i did eat, i would have heart racing, headache, shaking, lots of other stuff.  i went to a doctor to get all that checked out, and everything was fine.  about eight months later, i was diagnosed with an eating disorder.  EDNOS.  i didn't think i was really restricting, i thought i was just forgetting to eat, or getting to busy with stuff and forgetting to take care of myself.  after all was said and done, i realized that it was eating disorder thinking and behavior.  i would encourage you to think about that as a possibility for yourself.  especially if you are under weight and are having a hard time getting minimal calories (anything less that 1200/day).  people who don't have eating problems don't find it difficult to get that minimum amount of fuel in their bodies.  i wouldn't wish my kind of suffering on anyone and hope that if you are having trouble with an eating disorder, that you find a twelve step program or other program to help you get through it.

Posts from duplicate thread in Weight Gain forum

Aug 17 2008 04:32

Talk to the doctor yes. You have an eating disorder and seem to be experiencing panic attacks whilst eating which creates a vicious circle of bingeing.

Your only way out of this is to seek help. Good Luck x

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Aug 18 2008 21:08

Hey, I get that too.  Just by reading this, you sound a lot like me.

Try talking to the doctor or doing some research on google.

5 Replies