Palpitations after drinking alcohol - is it dangerous?


In addition to many "normal" causes of palpitations (e.g. physical and emotional stress, stress), some people experience a sudden palpitations after consuming alcohol, which usually only occurs after a certain time after drinking.
The main reason for this is the effects of alcohol on the body, but it can also be a symptom of alcohol or histamine intolerance.

Is that dangerous?

To assess the rapid heart rate, you should ask yourself whether it has already occurred several times or whether it is the first time. If there are other symptoms in addition to the racing heart, such as shortness of breath or chest pain, which may radiate into the left shoulder or arm, it can be a serious illness such as a heart attack. You should seek medical treatment if it occurs for the first time or if you have accompanying symptoms.
Especially with young people, the increased consumption of alcohol can lead to the so-called holiday heart syndrome, which is characterized by the sudden occurrence of cardiac arrhythmias, including palpitations. This is a disease that needs to be monitored, but is not dangerous, as the arrhythmia usually normalizes itself.
In general, palpitations do not necessarily represent a dangerous situation after alcohol consumption, but you should consult a doctor, especially if it occurs several times without accompanying symptoms, in order to be able to rule out any underlying diseases or have them treated.

Read more about the here Signs of a heart attack.


Alcohol affects many processes in the body. Among other things, it widens the vessels of the body, thereby causing the blood to "sink" into the vessels Drop in blood pressure comes. This leads i.a. the typical reddened cheeks after drinking alcohol. Furthermore, the drop in blood pressure is further promoted by the alcohol-related increased water excretion (you have to go to the toilet more often). To the Blood pressure however, to keep it constant, the body responds with a Increase in heart rate. This can be noticeable especially in sensitively reacting sufferers through palpitations and sweating.

Furthermore can also stress (please refer: Palpitations due to stress) and physical stress lead to palpitations. But these are physiological, i.e. "normal" and not pathological. Other causes of palpitations (the so-called. Sinus tachycardia) can on the one hand be physical, e.g. fever, one Hyperthyroidism or one Heart disease, on the other hand, they can also get through Medication (such as atropine) or other active ingredients such as alcohol, nicotine and caffeine be conditional.

You can find more information on this topic here: Causes of palpitations

Alcohol intolerance

Alcohol intolerance is a strong physical reaction to the smallest amount of alcohol. It is the case with many Asians. Typical symptoms are:

  • Hot flashes
  • Sweats
  • Racing heart
  • very red and swollen face
  • Stomach pain (please refer: Stomach pain after alcohol)

The cause of an alcohol intolerance is a genetic defect in alcohol and aldehyde dehydrogenase. These are important enzymes that are responsible for breaking down alcohol. If alcohol and its toxic degradation product acetaldehyde cannot be broken down, the body will become intoxicated.
Other causes of alcohol intolerance are liver diseases with liver damage, which also lead to alcohol breakdown disorders. People with liver damage are strongly advised not to continue consuming alcohol.

Histamine / histamine intolerance

Another cause of palpitations while drinking alcohol can be Histamine intolerance be. This manifests itself when eating foods rich in histamine, such as red wine (!), cheese and chocolate. Typical symptoms are:

  • Vomit
  • diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Racing heart
  • shortness of breath
  • Rashes
  • puffy eyelids and Sinuses

Histamines are messenger substances that are found in many different foods and some of which the human body produces itself. In our body, histamines play primarily in inflammation and allergic reactions an important role. You will ensure a Expansion of the vessels and increase their permeability. This allows the inflamed area to be better supplied with blood and the immune cells to penetrate the infection more quickly.
Excess histamine is normally produced by the body's own enzyme Diamine oxidase (DAO) reduced. However, those affected by histamine intolerance suffer from one Deficiency of the histamine-breaking enzymewhich prevents them from breaking down even the smallest amounts of histamine. The consequence is one Accumulation of histamine in the body and its typical symptoms.

Causes of histamine intolerance can be a genetic defect of diamine oxidase or an enzyme deficiency due to Bowel disease be.
At the same time can also alcohol trigger a histamine intolerance. By increasing the permeability of the intestinal wall, it promotes a increased penetration of histamines into the bodywhich trigger corresponding symptoms in those affected. Those affected should therefore urgently refrain from consuming alcohol (beer, red wine or champagne).

Alcohol withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal should always take place under medical supervision!

Alcohol withdrawal does not pass without a trace and can be accompanied by serious functional disorders of the internal organs, with palpitations being a symptom.
With alcohol dependence, typical withdrawal symptoms usually occur 4 to 12 hours after stopping the alcohol on.
Withdrawal symptoms include increased sweating, nervousness, insomnia and loss of appetite, as well as nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms are strong B.blood pressure fluctuations and Racing heart (vegetative symptoms = from the vegetative nervous system that cannot be influenced arbitrarily).
Alcohol, especially in higher doses, has a sedating (dampening) effect on the human body. If this falls away from one moment to the next, the body becomes one Stressful state offset. Palpitations are just one of the many alarm symptoms. Life threatening complications Such as seizures, acute heart and kidney failure and the so-called delirium tremens, a psychosyndrome with psychiatric, vegetative and neurological symptoms, can be the result.

More information can be found here: Consequences of alcohol


The reaction of the human body to alcohol consumption is very individual. For many people, it comes from drinking alcohol after a few hours too violent Racing heart, Sweats and sleep disorders. This can already happen with small amounts of alcohol, e.g. a glass of wine, occur and go with one for many sufferers high level of suffering hand in hand. This reaction increases in frequency, especially with increasing age.

Palpitations and nausea after drinking alcohol

Racing heart and nausea are symptoms that can occur after consuming alcohol. When consuming alcohol, be Substances released in the bodythat are emetogenic. That means these substances Nausea and vomiting trigger. These are typical symptoms of intoxication, especially with high amounts of alcohol.
Also one Alcohol intolerance can get through Racing heart and nausea express. The symptoms of intoxication are then usually faster and more pronounced with lower amounts of alcohol consumed than in people who are not intolerant to alcohol.
Nausea and palpitations from alcohol consumption can also be aggravated by the simultaneous use of other drugs or medication. The simultaneous use of other drugs while consuming alcohol is sometimes life threatening and should therefore be avoided.
Even when taking some medications, such as antidepressants or antipsychotics ( Psychiatric drugs and alcohol), alcohol consumption should be avoided.
In the case of nausea and palpitations caused by alcohol consumption, basically only one thing helps: plenty of sleep and sufficient fluids in the form of water. As soon as the high subsides, so do the symptoms.
In the case of very strong nausea and vomiting, however, it is essential care should be takenthat the data subject is not in Sleep vomits. That can be Obstruction of the airways and in the worst case lead to death from suffocation.
If the person is no longer sufficiently conscious and responsive and vomits in addition, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

Nocturnal racing heart after drinking alcohol

Some people have nocturnal palpitations even after consuming a small amount of alcohol. Why the strongly accelerated heart rate occurs mainly at night depends mainly on two factors:

First, alcohol simply becomes the most common drank in the evening. Since alcohol, as described above, can cause the blood vessels to widen, the heart has to beat faster so that the blood pressure does not drop.

The second factor depends on that autonomic nervous system together. The vegetative, i.e. not arbitrarily influenceable, nervous system is made up of the Sympathetic (Activation of the body) and the Parasympathetic nervous system (Relaxation and resting state of the body), which are opponents and are mostly in balance. While the sympathetic nervous system increases the heart rate and strength in the heart, for example, the parasympathetic nervous system causes both parameters to decrease. At night the parasympathetic nervous system predominates in the heart, so that one has a lower heart rate at night than during the day. Alcohol increases the effectiveness of the parasympathetic nervous system: the heart beats slower and one is sleepy. But as soon as the Alcohol is broken down (approx. 0.1 to 0.2 per mille / hour), the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system suddenly drops and the body-activating consequences of the sympathetic system predominate. Your heart will race and you will wake up.

The latter also explains the fact that alcohol can help you fall asleep, but mostly that too Disturbed sleeping through the night is.


Insomnia and cardiac arrhythmias are related in a kind of vicious circle. Roughly speaking, too little sleep can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, and cardiac arrhythmias lead to unrestful or reduced sleep.
If you notice the cardiac arrhythmia, a stress reaction is set in motion in the body that prevents you from falling asleep. Those affected notice that their heart is not working correctly, they worry - which in the worst case can even lead to fear of death - what makes falling asleep impossible in this context. In the same way, too little sleep in combination with alcohol consumption leads to the development of arrhythmias. It is precisely this connection that is recorded under the term “Holiday Heart Syndrome”. It occurs particularly in adolescents who combine long nights of partying with little sleep and increased alcohol consumption.

More on this topic: sleep disorders

high blood pressure

Arrhythmias and high blood pressure are two things that affect each other and are often found in combination.

In general, patients with high blood pressure - a so-called hypertension - also have a greater potential for arrhythmia. Furthermore, when there is cardiac arrhythmia, there is also a reflex rise in blood pressure as an expression of the stress reaction that the body is currently going through.

When does palpitations become dangerous?

Palpitations may occur after consuming alcohol. A slightly elevated heart rate is basically normal with moderate alcohol consumption and not a cause for concern at first. If you are intoxicated with alcohol, racing your heart is quite possible.
If there are additional symptoms such as unconsciousness, aggressive behavior and a strong disinhibition or even a coma, medical care is absolutely necessary. Further warning signs are severe impairment of consciousness that goes beyond the “normal” restrictions of alcohol intoxication, as well as constant vomiting, shortness of breath, collapse and circulatory problems. One should also think about possible poisoning with methanol. Typically, in addition to nausea, vomiting and palpitations, visual disturbances also occur with methanol poisoning.
Poisoning with additionally ingested drugs can also trigger a dangerous palpitations when consuming alcohol.
Since drugs often vary in their composition, symptoms can also vary widely. A common drug that is mixed into alcoholic beverages as part of sexual offenses is the GBH, which is colloquially known as Ko-Drops.
However, other drugs or even mixtures of different drugs and medications are also possible.
If a person's condition changes abnormally after drinking alcohol, caution should always be exercised. A rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, sexual disinhibition, aggression, hallucinations, visual disturbances and many other symptoms can be warning signs.
Other causes of such a reaction are previous heart diseases or the use of certain medications. If, in such a case, a rapid heartbeat and accompanying symptoms occur, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

Our next topic might also be of interest to you: Palpitations after eating


When diagnosing, it is important to pay particular attention to whether the palpitations only occur after consuming alcohol or in other situations. Since there is also a physical illness can hide, it is important to clarify this with a doctor.

This takes place after a detailed medical discussion with recording of any Risk factors (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity or a nicotine consumption) and the frequency, duration and circumstances of the racing heart including a physical examination. Attention is also paid to the Ingestion or the recent one Withdrawal from medication (e.g. Diuretics or Antiarrhythmics) placed.

Then follows a Blood draw with determination of various blood values, including Blood lipids, cholesterol, thyroid levels and kidney levels.

In addition to a Blood pressure measurement and one EKG can also be a function, especially if the heart rate recurs frequently Long-term ECG be written over 24 hours. This means that serious illnesses can be ruled out or appropriate therapeutic options can be initiated.

Affected under long term Cardiac arrhythmias or among others Heart disease should be examined by a general practitioner or cardiologist if the palpitations occur, regardless of whether the palpitations occur after drinking alcohol or in other situations.

Therapy options

If the palpitations are only triggered by the consumption of alcohol, we recommend the Reduce alcohol consumption or completely closed avoid.
Since above all Wine or Wine-based alcohol products in the context of a histamine intolerance Can trigger palpitations, it is advisable to do without them entirely.

Should physical causes (such as a Hyperthyroidism), it is recommended to use the Underlying disease to treat. Usually this already leads to the disappearance of the symptoms. If unsuccessful you can Beta blockers, such as. Metoprolol be prescribed.

How long does the heartbeat last?

Cardiac arrhythmias after consuming alcohol are largely dependent on two things. On the one hand, it is about how much alcohol was consumed and on the other hand, how “susceptible” the person is to the development of cardiac arrhythmias. As a rule, the rapid heartbeat disappears around the time when the sobriety returns. Thus, the metabolic performance of the liver is another factor that influences the time the heart races. Not every person develops cardiac arrhythmias when they consume alcohol.

If one assumes, however, that the body can break down between 0.1 and 0.15 per mille of alcohol per hour and the racing heart stops when fasting is reached, the duration for the respective blood alcohol content can be roughly calculated.

Also read our topic: Alcohol breakdown