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Is it normal to have a fast heartbeat before/after having coffee?

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I know most of you would answer yes, because of the caffeine and what not. But I'm no where near new to coffee. I have 2-3 a day! But this morning my heart beat was up 85 beats per minute, I was trembling and almost hyperventilating.. This was before I'd even taken a sip of the coffee itself! Maybe this is more of an anxiety thing? My heart is still thumping like crazy.. I guess I am a little anxious about some things.. Maybe I shouldn't have had the coffee? What's a good relaxing/breathing exercise to do that will calm me down a bit.. I've tried breathing deeply I just can't get a hold of myself. Does anyone else suffer from this? Sorry if this is the 100000th time this has been posted.. but everyone is different.

Edit: I'm 18, 5'8, 143 pounds.

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So, while you know that multiple cups of coffee can cause heart palpitations, you've pointed out that you were trembling and had an elevated (for you) heart rate before you even had your morning coffee.

There are a variety of things that can cause this beyond too much caffeine.

The first and most likely given your age and weight history is that you are not eating enough. You are on a maintenance diet now -- so that should mean about 2000 or more calories per day (2500 if you have any regular exercise program). And is it possible it's more like 1400-1600? So, if that's the case, then up the calorie intake immediately and on a daily basis. 

The second possibility is that you are coming down with a cold or flu. The heart rate will often be the first thing that noticeably increases before any other symptom is present.

The hyperventilating is most likely an anxious response to generally feeling agitated with an increased heart rate and worrying about the implications. So, yes some breathing exercises will help the anxiety portion of things. Put your head between your legs and force yourself to take a deep breath in, hold it for a couple of seconds and then slowly exhale taking at least 5 seconds to complete the exhalation. Hyperventilation is taking too many shallow breaths in without allowing proper exhalation.

It's also possible, if you were not careful in slowly and steadily reducing your weight (i.e. if you restricted your calories too much and/or exercised fiendishly) then you may have triggered blood sugar issues. While perhaps not hypoglycemic, you may need to be sure that you eat in the morning before you have coffee and that you spread out your food steadily throughout the day to maintain your blood sugar.

I would recommend two things: a visit to a doctor to see if there is an underlying blood sugar issue that is best managed now with proper eating; and a visit to a therapist. If you are an anxious person then cognitive behavioral therapy (usually 8-10 sessions maximum spread out however you want) can help give you all the techniques so that you never develop a full-blown anxiety disorder now or later in life. The best outcomes for overcoming anxiety are when it is addressed early on.

Also, as an aside, 2-3 cups of coffee will worsen any anxiety you may have so if you don't want to go caffeine-free at this point, limit the coffee to one a day and that will also help lower any general agitation you have.

Best of luck.

Thank you so much for the very informative reply. You gave me a lot to think about! I'm currently eating around 2000-2500 but was only getting 1800 or so before hand for a while! That breathing exercise really helped and I'm going to ask my doctor about it at my next appointment. As for the therapist, I'm not sure whether I'm an overly anxious person, I think it was just brought on by a lot of stress lately. Thank you, again! Your post was very helpful to me.


Actually, I suggested therapy precisely because you are not an overly anxious person. 

Your normal stress response puts you in a category (defined from birth) that can develop into an anxiety disorder much later in life.

There's nothing wrong with your stress response and in fact it is found throughout our population precisely because it has real benefits in emergency situations (those with more of an anxiety cascade function as early warning systems and often save lives as a result -- the first ones to smell smoke, as an example).

So, what therapy this early on can do for you is help you use your response and manage it well throughout your life rather than suppressing or ignoring it until it starts to impinge on your life. In other words, seeing a therapist when you don't have a problem (and you don't right now) is the best time to get the techniques in place.

Your right, that does make a lot of sense. Thank you.

What is the duration/frequency of the "episodes"?

Not really much to add from what's already been said, but another thing you could do, if it happens again before you see your physician and it lasts for a prolonged period of time, is get to a clinic/lab to have an ECG/EKG run?

I don't know how easy it is for you to get this done where you live -- I'm in Canada, and I just walked into a medical lab that had the equipment for it and had it done.  I'm sure a hospital would do it as well; usually seeing as it's a cardiac problem, they admit you before anyone else.

I'm just mentioning this because if there is any other underlying reason for it, it'd be helpful for the doctor to see what's going on when it's actually happening.  Nice to rule out a lot of possibilities.

I don't want to scare/worry, I'm just mentioning it because I had a heart problem that never came out until I was about 16 or so even though it was congenital.  The only way to see what it was was for me to have an EKG done while in tachycardia.  But for me, the rapid heart rate was much higher (always over 200), and my resting heart rate was usually around 100.  I noticed that stress usually triggered it whether physical or sudden emotional (ie. suddenly super busy at work and you stress out, hahaha)....

Anyway, hope they figure out what's causing it!  Maybe watch sugar intake in the meantime?

When it happens, try taking several big deep breaths, I know for a lot of people this usually helps with any form of palpitation.

Take care!


5 Replies