Can Dehydration Cause Heart Palpitations?

Tom August  —  April 14, 2015

[Note: This post is part of a larger series about the The Best Cures and Remedies for Heart Palpitations]

The short answer is yes. Dehydration can cause your heart to skip. I have found that even just a little dehydration can make my heart begin to flutter. So drinking more water and staying hydrated has helped with my heart palpitations.

I used to hate drinking water. Maybe it was the funny taste the tap water had in our town, but I would rather drink anything other than water. I guess I come by it honestly because I don’t think I’ve ever seen my 87-year-old grandfather drink anything but coffee and the occasional diet mountain dew. (It’s really quite remarkable really. I don’t know how he does it).

Can Dehydration Cause Heart Palpitations?

photo credit: dreamjay

My view on water drastically changed when I got food poisoning one night from eating at an Applebees. Fluids were exiting my body in all manner of directions (curse you, Applebees!!) and I quickly became so dehydrated that I had to be rushed to the hospital. I spent the night there hooked up to IVs that helped me overcome the severe dehydration. From then on, I tried to make it a point to always stay hydrated.

I was reminded of this again when I started having heart palpitations a few years later. Many people (myself included) experience heart palpitations even from a small amount of dehydration. I didn’t want to chance it, so I made sure to get my recommended amount of water every day (I actually tracked it each day).

The result of drinking more water was incredible.

I feel like I have more energy, I don’t get near as many headaches (or sinus infections…but that could be due to other dietary changes), and the best, and most unexpected part is that it helped my digestion.

Does Drinking More Water Help Stop Heart Palpitations?

I have seen a number of comments online from people who say that drinking more water has helped or cured their heart palpitations. I think this is for two reasons:

  1. They were dehydrated and dehydration can cause heart palpations. When you become dehydrated your body is depleted of minerals that help regulate the bodies natural rhythm (sodium, magnesium, potassium, etc).
  2. Water helped them with digestion of heavy foods. One of the biggest things I noticed when I started drinking more water was that my body did a better job of digesting food. I felt better too. I think a big cause of heart palpitations come from irritation of the Vagus Nerve that runs throughout your body including your stomach. Which I believe is also why eating too much can cause heart palpitations as can IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

So I highly recommend that do yourself a favor and drink more water. I’m not saying ONLY drink water, but definitely make it a higher priority if you don’t already. I’ve even tried mineral infused water (like Smart Water) and I really like it. I’ve tried Vitamin water too and worked it into the rotation as well, especially since it has a lot less sugar than Gatorade or other sports drinks. I really enjoy coconut water too. This one is a good one to try if you’ve never had coconut water (I prefer it to others I’ve tried).

Drinking Too Much Water at Once Can Actually Cause Heart Palpitations

Quick word of caution: I made the mistake of drinking too much water at once (I still sometimes do this unfortunately). I would gulp down a whole class of water in a couple of seconds or drink a big glass right after a meal. This actually made my heart palpitations worse. To help fight this, I bought a Nalgene Bottle (which lets me take smaller sips throughout the day wherever I’m at) and an insulated water bottle that I try to keep with me when I am working out and exercising. I use this Nalgene Bottle when I work (its sturdy and I like how it shows how much I have been drinking, plus it allows me to drink small amounts while I work rather than guzzle water during a break) and I use this insulated water bottle when I workout. I love it. If you run or cycle, I highly recommend it. It’s awesome.

So what do you think? Has drinking more water helped your heart palpitations?

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DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind I am NOT a medical professional and this is NOT a Medical website. I am just a guy who got sick and tired of dealing with anxiety, stress, and benign heart palpitations and started blogging about my journey. Hopefully some of that information is helpful to you. But what works for me or others might not work for you. Please do not do ANYTHING described or recommended in this website without the consultation and consent of your Primary Care Physician or Cardiologist. After all, this is your heart we are talking about. Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission that goes toward supporting this website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

16 responses to Can Dehydration Cause Heart Palpitations?

  1. Yes I believe a little dehydration makes my heart skip,,,,been fighting it for over 50 years but am convinced this is one of the triggers.

  2. Grateful to God that I found this sight. 63 year old male who runs fairly regularly. Usually 2 miles at a time around 6.5 to 7.0 mph pace. When under stress notice them more but recently more prominent. Like several respondents, went to emergency room out of concern when beats were intermittent. It is scary but they did and EKG and CT scan and the nurse told me my heart was better than his. He was in his early thirties. Doctor also informed me no irregularities noted. Blood pressure was elevated due to anxiety. I will begin to use some of the techniques outlined and increase water intake. By the way they noted I was also dehydrated and gave my intravenous fluids. I am thankful that someone like you took the time and concern for others. Certainly exercise helps and just having an outlet like this is relief with the understanding that many others are going through the same thing. May the Lord bless you and those of you who are suffering that He will bring peace and healing as well. Thank you for sharing your insights with others.

  3. Had arrythmias for years. Also SVT which can go as high at 200-220 beats per minute and bradycardia as low as 35-40 bpms . Comes and goes used to be related or so I thought to hormone fluctuations. Recently a trip to high altitude in The Rockies and dehydration set it off. Was extremely ill there. Been persistent since. About 4 weeks now. Very frustrating and exhausting.
    What a great site! So many good tips. I’ll try them all. Went to cardiologist and only help was metaprolol which I’m scared to take – my blood pressure is already 103/60. Any other women out there have similar problems? Or men with high altitude triggers?

    • Hi Cheri,

      I, too, get palpitations, racing heart, skipped beats, occasionally now. I am 70, and this only just started in the last year, and was pretty severe for awhile, ending up in the ER at least once and through all the typical tests (nuclear stress, echo, calcium CT), which came out good. Like you, because my BP is already on the low side, usually around 110/70, I don’t want to be taking a daily beta blocker every day for the rest of my life, as even the cardiologist told me it will lower my BP more, and I might have to lay down. What way is that to spend your life every day, right? I’ve not been diagnosed with bradycardia but I’ve had resting heartbeats around 55 and wondered if I could have that. Anyway, I’m going to pass on to you a couple of the things that seem to have helped me a little. In my case, I think stress and worry is a big factor for me. (I have a dependent adult daughter who is chronically sick and relies on me, so of course I worry all the time about my health, sticking around for her, and providing financially for both of us which isn’t easy when you aren’t feeling well. Anyway, here are a couple suggestions:

      1. If you aren’t taking any bioidentical progesterone, you might want to consider it. I got some bioidentical progesterone cream from Dr. John Lee’s website (he’s an authority on it). He also has an excellent short booklet ($12.95) about heart disease that is well worth the money. He gives a lot of good recommendations for helping the heart and palpitations. Progesterone is the “feel good” hormone for women, and helps us stay calm as well as being important for the heart. After menopause, our progesterone drops to nothing. And this type of progesterone is completely safe. Not like the artificial progesterone that the pharma companies used in their hormone replacement therapy drugs like PremPro & Permarin.

      2. I take about 800 mg magnesium glycinate daily. Magnesium is extremely important for the heart, and that type of magnesium does not seem to promote loose stools.

      3. At the beginning of the day, also to help me relax, I take one taurine (1000 mg) and one L-theanine (100 mg).

      4. I take quite a few other supplements for the heart, not necessarily every day as it gets expensive: Omega 3, Vitamin E, tocotrienols, NAC, Vitamin D3 (5000 IU), K2 with MK7 (I get from ), policosonal, hawthorne, berry, berberine, iodoral 12.5 mg, and more; but I don’t want to overwhelm you.

      5. Do you have any digestive issues? I do. And I believe that will sometimes set off palpitations. What can happen is that if your stomach/esophagus area is too full or irritated by a certain food, they can irritate the nearby diaghram (spelling?), and especially the vagus nerve which is right next to the heart. The vagus nerve has been implicated in causing palpitations. So, I eat lightly and take digestive enzymes to make sure my food keeps moving down and quickly digested. I take a probiotic first thing in the morning and on an empty stomach at bedtime.

      6. I have also gone to see an acupuncturist twice and I think it might be helping. When I described my symptoms to him, digestive problems, hiccuping (diaghram), palpitations, stress, etc., he told me 20 yrs. ago he had the same problem and because acupuncture helped him, he decided to learn and study it and use it to help others. He said what I described to him is a classic textbook case in Chinese medicine of a problem with the spleen that is involved in the wellness of all the other organs. I guess it gets gunked up with many toxins over the years and can’t do its job properly of providing needed blood to all the organs. In addition he has gotten me to do deep breathing. I never realized the importance of it, but if the diaghram and vagus nerve are acting up, the deep breathing will definitely help that. I only do it maybe once a day. I started out breathing in deeply to the count of five, making sure my stomach expanded, and then breathing out to the count of five. I have worked up to the count of seven now. I do it about 9 or 10 times. What this does, besides helping with relaxing you, is it causes the diaghram to raise and lower properly which helps with oxygen getting to all the organs, including the heart. And apparently is also helps relax the diaghram.

      Now, with any of these suggestions that are for calming oneself, I have gone slowly as I don’t want my BP any lower, and none of the things I have done seem to have affected my BP or pulse either way, except I don’t seem to notice as much racing, and my pulse has not gone any lower — usually in the 70-90 range when resting.

      I hope some of this is helpful to you, Cheri. I know it is very disconcerting, but at least I don’t believe it is life threatening. Just life changing and annoying. Take care.

      • Thank you so much Diana for your kindness, you have shared great information. I do a similar protocol of suplements and it does help. To me there is nothing as scarry as heart palpitations!

    • Yes. I moved to Santa Fe and have been to the ER 3 times and paramedics called once, with tetany symptoms from dehydration. I think I will need to move. Been 1.5 years and no improvement

    • I have/had SVT and saw an electrophysiologist and they did an ablation on me three years ago and I haven’t had any episodes since. Water helps with palpitations.

    • To stop palpitatios, I lay on my back in front of the couch and place both of my legs on the couch, as high as I can (the higher the better).
      My palpitations stop almost instantly – always, it never fails. Stay in that position for 10-20 minuites, or more, and that is it.

  4. Been having heart palpitations, measured 183 bpm and vomiting mostly stomach acid apparently from dehydration and loss of appetite and susequent low food consumption and the complication of hiking at elevation. Anyone ever hear of stomach gas causing heart vibration, possibly from the vegus nerve?

  5. Wonderful information here, Tom! And also, Diana. I want to pass on something I do that helps with SVT, hydration and low BP: add Himalayan pink salt to your water. Just sprinkle to taste. This natural salt isn’t high in sodium but is high in minerals. I keep a salted water bottle with me and sip it when I feel an SVT attack coming on. I’ve had it stop the palpitations before they can stop me. I have read (somewhere online) that drinking water laced with a natural sea/mineral salt is all you can do for low BP. Works for me!

  6. I suffered from severe PVC’s. Upping my Magnesium levels cured it. Whenever I don’t take it my PVC’s come back. I use this:

  7. Thank you for the information. I will have to try to take in more water daily and see if this helps. I am going to schedule a doctor appointment this afternoon to try to see a doctor soon concerning my blood pressure. I am 27 years old and have been suffering from high bp and heart palpations. When checking my bp the other day it was 133/96 with 99 bpm with a pulse pressure of 37 and mean arterial pressure of 108. My bpm had fluctuations in it and this threw me off. I try to eat healthy meals with low carb and high protein. I am 5’9 and weight 130. Being overweight isn’t an issue here. I’m nervous because this has started out of no where.

    • Sounds like my senario way back when I was that age. How much caffeine do you take in? Pop, coffee, tea, Also how much water do you drink? I ignored my High Blood Pressure until it skyrocketed when I 50. Don’t do that I have a reduced function in my kidneys as a result of not controlling back then. Just sayin!

  8. Very helpful website about heart FLUTTERING. . .

  9. Thanks for this website. In 2002 I had a spell of palps and it went away. I had all the tests and all was normal. Now, out of no place.. I am having them again… severely.

    – Oddly they happen at night. After 12 PM they start. Slow like 1 or 2 for the afternoon.
    And typically lead to “spells” when I lie down at night. From 6 to 10. Spells being 2 to 4 hours of 1 palp about every minute. It is my suspicion that something about lying down or eating is causing it.
    – I am of Perimenapause age and am having symptoms of that. However, I don’t understand why this has started so abruptly.
    – I went to the Urgent care and they took an EKG and did some blood tests. Of course, all was fine. I refused a holter monitor because I work in a building with a metal detector and that would be a hassle. I have an appointment this week and I might ask for it and just stay out of work.
    – I seem to be having luck with reducing the caffeine. But it isn’t a sure thing. I had a spell last night on a small dose. Plus I have one cup of coffee in the morning at 6 AM. How can I then have spells due to caffeine at 6 PM? And not feel any paps in the morning? It is my theory that the caffeine could dehydrate me.
    – It is possible that I am dehydrated. I am trying to get the water level up. That being said I am stupefied at the fact that I probably have been dehydrated for years and never had a palp. Now I am living with them. So far having my normal food and two 8oz glasses of water hasn’t done much.
    – I started taking magnesium. It is a liquid form. So far it has not done much.
    – I took some natural progesterone last night but had a spell right after. I am going to assume though that there is no way that could have caused it as it was the first and a small dose.