Can Constipation Cause Heart Palpitations?

Constipation can be an embarrassing and irritating condition. Perhaps you’re not comfortable talking about it with others for fear of being judged or laughed at, but sometimes, it’s really no laughing matter!

Can Constipation Cause Heart Palpitations

Studies have shown a direct link between constipation and the heart. While feeling a bit backed up by no means suggests there’s a problem with your cardiovascular health, it can indeed cause heart palpitations(see also: How To Prevent Heart Palpitations With Meditation).

Should you be worried about such an event? Well, I’d say it’s certainly something to monitor, and it’s worth visiting your doctor for a quick checkup if only to give you some peace of mind.

But if you’d like more information before booking an appointment, read on.

How Is Constipation Linked To Cardiac Events?

Everyone feels like the cogs have stopped turning in the toilet department from time to time — Lord knows, we don’t hear the end of it from laxative commercials.

And most of the time, it’s a complete fluke or the result of a temporary lifestyle or diet change.

In these instances, there’s almost never anything to worry about. It’s primarily when constipation becomes a persistent issue that problems may arise.

While research is ongoing regarding the tie between the bowels and the heart, it’s thought that one of the reasons constipation can cause cardiac events is that we’re regularly straining physically whilst simultaneously experiencing mental stress.

Straining increases blood pressure, meaning the heart has to pump faster to get the blood where it needs to be, thus heart palpitations.

As people hold their breath when trying to force stool out, a slight oxygen deficiency can contribute to the ferocity of the palpitations as well as leave you with a light head.

But constipation is linked to the heart in more ways than the domino effects of straining and stress.

Constipation alters our intestinal microbiota, which in itself can increase blood pressure, and in severe cases, trigger potentially fatal cardiac events such as congestive heart failure, acute coronary disease, or aortic dissection.

Notable Findings On The Link Between Constipation & Heart Health

A study involving 93,676 patients, all of which were postmenopausal women, showed that those experiencing constipation had a 23% higher risk of cardiac events over the course of a 6.9-year time frame.

Hypothetically, this percentage would increase over a larger period.

Another observational study in Japan revealed that those who defecate at least once a day as opposed to once every 2 to 3 days are less at risk of cardiovascular complications and death.

And yet another Japanese study showed that of 59 patients admitted to hospital for cardiovascular issues, 47% were constipated, and 21.6% only developed constipation after they were already in the hospital.

CAID: A More Concrete Connection

Can Constipation Cause Heart Palpitations

Okay, so we’ve established that the heart and bowels are linked in rather interesting ways, and this is the case for every single human on planet Earth (so don’t be embarrassed if you’re noticing the connection for the first time).

But for some people, there is a much stronger and more problematic link between these disparate areas of our anatomy, and it’s known as chronic atrial and intestinal dysrhythmia, or CAID if you’re looking to save on a few syllables.

What Is CAID?

CAID is a disorder that impacts the heart and digestive system in equal measure.

It’s triggered by an underlying condition known as sick sinus syndrome, which is essentially a heart rhythm abnormality wherein the SA node doesn’t function properly.

For the uninitiated, the SA node is a collection of specialised cells within the heart that send out minuscule electrical signals to control our heartbeat.

Now, the heart is like a metronome that helps the rest of the body run smoothly and in time, so when the master pulse of our faculties goes a bit haywire, it stands to reason that the other rhythmic aspects of our biology start losing time.

One such function is the muscle contractions that keep food travelling through the body.

Even with a pristine diet and tons of exercise, this lack of rhythm can lead to constipation.

And as sick sinus syndrome can cause heart palpitations entirely on its own, those with this condition will almost certainly experience them when living with a bout of constipation.

Do I Have CAID?

If you’re over 20 and you’re only just experiencing heart palpitations and constipation, it’s highly unlikely that you’ve got CAID.

The cardiac and digestive issues tend to develop in unison, manifesting and mingling in younger people.

Still, if you’re concerned that you might have CAID, don’t hesitate; make an appointment with your doctor and get yourself checked out.

Should I Get Checked Out If I’m Constipated & Having Heart Palpitations?

It’s always best to err on the side of caution and see a doctor if you’re concerned about heart palpitations.

In all likelihood, you’re absolutely fine and this is just a phase, but as a rule, you should query any new heart palpitations (see also: Can You Have Heart Palpitations With A Pacemaker?)you experience.

And by new, I mean if they’re occurring in a new situation or feel different to heart palpitations you’ve had before.

The Link Between Constipation, The Heart, & Age

As we get older, the natural ageing process diminishes both our digestive and cardiac faculties, and as they start winding down, the connection they share grows stronger, with the functionality of the bowels having an increased effect on cardio activity.

That’s not to say that everyone will experience a confluence of symptoms from both forms of biological deterioration, but the chances increase significantly as we get older.

This means that as we enter the autumn of our lives, we’re more likely to experience palpitations alongside constipation. 

Final Thoughts

Can constipation cause heart palpitations? Yes, definitely. However, while it can be indicative of a more insidious health issue, most of the time, you have nothing to worry about.

There are various causes for feeling backed up, mostly completely unrelated to heart health.

Any bout of constipation can cause heart (see also: Can A Heart Attack Cause A Seizure?)palpitations, and once the underlying issue is resolved, the palpitations will also be a thing of the past.

Book an appointment with your doctor ASAP just to be sure, especially if it’s an ongoing problem, and you should be back to normal in no time.

Clare McAfee
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