Dr. Alaa: Excessive coffee, tea or other stimulants could cause heart palpitation

Dr. Alaa: Excessive coffee, tea or other stimulants could cause heart palpitation


Heart palpitation is one of the most common complaints among cardiac clinic visitors. But, what is meant by the term “Palpitation”? It is the awareness of one’s heart beats. Normally, heart beats range from 50 – 100 beats/min, however, palpitations are felt when heart beats either decrease or increase than the normal range.

The most common type of palpitation is “Tachycardia”- an increase in heart beats. Sinus tachycardia is one cause of physiological increases in heartbeats. It is a normal response to fever, headache, toothache, abdominal pain, emotional stress, extreme emotions and excessive intake of caffeine or tobacco.

For this reason, palpitation can be classified as either benign or malignant. The Benign (Supraventricular tachycardia) is when heart beats originate from both atria above the ventricles and is only dangerous in rare cases. On the other hand, Malignant, which is known as (ventricular tachycardia) originates from the ventricles and causes severe symptoms like dizziness, severe chest tightness, black outs and fainting due to low blood pressure and usually medical attention is required.

Benign increase in heart beats may appear as paroxysm; which is the sudden increase of heart rate that may last for few minutes, hours or days. It may occur suddenly and persists for a long period of time. Moreover, an irregular and often rapid heart rate may cause symptoms like heart palpitations, fatigue, and shortness of breath. This type of palpitation is called Atrial Fibrillation (AF).

On top of all types of abnormal heart beats, Atrial Fibrillation is the most risky form of all palpitations seen in the cardiology clinics. In fact, its causes could be organic due to diseases like hypertension, ischemic heart disease, hyperthyroidism, or rheumatic heart disease.

Comparatively, other non organic causes include excessive use of coffee, tea, and alcohol, extreme exhaustion, and insomnia (lack of sleep).
When it comes to the less critical forms of AF, it usually require other ways of treatment such as medications that normalize heart beats or control its rate; in addition to blood thinning drugs (Anticoagulants) if the AF has not returned back to its normal rate, and it is very important in such cases to seek immediate professional help.

Finally, and most important, Adequate knowledge and awareness of heart health is a fair assurance of prevention. Everyone would surely agree that prevention is really far better than cure.