Abnormally high heart rate after a big meal

Ever since I've got my pacermaker in January 2021, because I had a complete heart block (my HR was usually 36-42bpm, asymptomatic). I've noticed this phenomena that every now and then after I've had a big meal, I'd notice my chest/heart pounding fast. I have a Garmin watch that can track heart rate and it shows over 100bpm. Even without Garmin, I could tell that my heart was pounding. I thought nothing of it, maybe my body was working harder to digest the food...?

Just now I've experienced this again. After a meal, I felt "bloated", it wasn't a particularly huge meal, but maybe it was high in sodium (I'm not sure, it doesn't taste particularly salty to me), but I've once again experienced this pounding heart again. After the meal, I didn't do any physical activities, just sitting and browsing on the web.

I'm just sitting down now, reclined, and trying to stay still as much as I can and breathe more slowly to try and lower my heart rate.

My question is: is this normal, or should I be concerned?


I had the same

by quikjraw - 2023-05-07 04:59:56


After I had my implant I noticed this very same situation.

I had been for a very easy walk then had a fair amount to eat for lunch.

My heart rate was 100bpm for a long time.

I actually went to the GP as I panicked that my pacemaker had dropped into some sort of safe mode.

The pacemake was ruled out as the cause.

It was really happening and I think it was a combination of heightened awareness of heart rate and possibly a different feeling of being paced. 

Have a word with your general doctor and pacing clinic

by Gemita - 2023-05-07 05:52:43

Koala, perhaps the remedy is to keep your portions smaller from now on and see if this helps.  Try eating little and often, for example. 

A meal can be a trigger for an arrhythmia, since there is certainly a strong gastric-heart connection.  For example, gastric reflux or a large hiatal hernia is a known arrhythmia cause because of the proximity of the stomach/oesophagus to the heart (and the vagus nerve connection too). Here is a link on the many possibilities, including Roemheld Syndrome.


I would pop along to your GP and explain your symptoms so that he can do a few checks, but yes, my arrhythmias frequently start by eating but I have known oesophageal high pressure contractions which can frequently lead to heart rhythm disturbances. 

As long as your heart rate can be controlled during these episodes and you do not have worrisome symptoms, like breathlessness or chest pain, I would try not to worry though.  Instead of sitting after a meal, try taking a gentle stroll to help move your food from the stomach (that might be compressing the heart) down into your colon.  Don't lie down or sit in a recliner either after a meal, keep upright to help aid digestion.

What are you eating and drinking Koala?  You might benefit from a change in diet.  Your symptoms are unlikely to be from your pacemaker, more likely to be from a gastric cause/trigger if the higher heart rate is always associated with eating.  Even so, it might be worth asking your pacing clinic to check your downloads to look for any events at the time of your symptoms, and to look for any new arrhythmias?

Yes, it's a thing associated with aging

by Persephone - 2023-05-07 12:07:04

There is no doubt that our digestive processes change quite a bit with aging, not to mention the presence of any metabolic disease. I've had to go very low sodium and can't tolerate much restaurant food any more due to the usually very high levels of salt added. 2 grams a day is the recommended max and many of the single dishes you could be served have 2+ times that sodium level. Even something as innocent looking as a sandwich or salad can be loaded with sodium.

Increased HR after heavy meal

by Rch - 2023-05-07 22:40:47

Your PM with the 3rd degree heart block is probably in DDDR mode. A slight elevation in HR is normal after a meal so that more blood can be pumped to the GI tract to facilitate digestion but a HR of 100 seems very high!  If your device clinic didn't record any PMT, A. Fib/Flutter events, then I'm just wondering if it's some sort of a change in thoracic impedance triggering rate response-just wondering!!!  So, you would need to discuss that with your PCP. To answer your question, IMHO it's not normal for HR to rise that much after a meal! Hope you will have an answer soon! 


by koala - 2023-05-09 02:39:30

Thanks for all your input. I will print out my questions and hand it to the doctor next time I see him (next month). I am not very assertive and if I don't do this, usually I don't get to ask any questions or forget what it was.

I have been sick with cold for the past 3 days, today is the worst so far. I have noticed that my heart rate is relatively high most of the time, while having a meal does trigger the high heart rate, even long after a meal my heart rate hovers around 90 and not infrequently go up to 110-120. This is even during sleep at night.

I haven't monitored my heart rate before this, so I'm not sure what's "normal", but I'm guessing that it used to average around 80.


Another unrelated phenomena I've observed since I first had my PM is that when I lie down on my left, eventually that would lead to a pounding heart beat. After a while I had to lie on my back to lower the heart rate. I just chalked this up to "one of those things" and try to avoid sleeping on my left for too long.

In the beginning, lying on my left would lead to very strong muscle spasms, and after several adjustments, they managed to lower the voltage of the output which eliminated it.

Even post adjustments, every now and then I still have some random muscle spasm/twitching that can only be stopped by rotating my left arm or pulling my shoulder back or something (not quite sure which motion would fix it so I would just have to try until it stops). This hasn't occurred as much lately. 


by koala - 2023-05-10 20:54:05

I'm feeling much better yesterday and today, and my HR has also noticeably gone down. My HR during sleeping is now down to 65 bpm, and normal sitting heart rate is 80bpm.

Yep, me too

by 73Rawk - 2023-05-25 21:49:17

I have experienced this a number of times and I'm trying to isolate the triggers. I'm hoping it's not my evening coffee but I'm cutting it out anyway. I thought it might be too much syrup from a Soda Stream beverage so I've stopped having those with dinner (the only time I have them anyway). Trying to drink more water as has been mentioned elsewhere here. Will let you know how it's going... 

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