Can Gluten Cause Heart Palpitations?

Products labeled gluten-free have seen a surge in sales in the last 11 years, and since then they have been found in nearly all shops. This can be attributed to the gluten sensitivity developed by millions around the world. Although gluten is normally seen as a gastrointestinal and autoimmune problem in this article, we will take a close look at it from a cardiological perspective. We will answer the question of whether gluten can cause heart palpitations. Also, we will discuss the potential impact of gluten on heart health and cardiovascular diseases. We will explore the role of gluten in conditions like celiac disease and idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and how a gluten-free diet might influence them.
Jakub Gwiazdecki

Jakub Gwiazdecki

Fifth year medical student at the Medical Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava.

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Can gluten cause heart palpitations?

Gluten, on its own, is not associated with heart palpitations. A healthy individual is very unlikely to experience heart palpitations from gluten. However, the situation is different for patients with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten. Celiac disease can have many symptoms, including heart palpitations.

Additionally, there are cases of people with celiac disease who experience heart palpitations that improve with a gluten-free diet [1].

Also, in idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, gluten may contribute to worsened heart function and, cause symptoms like heart palpitations. When patients with this disease adhered to a gluten-free diet, an improvement in heart performance was observed [2].

However, it's important to note that all the cases involve indirect impacts of gluten on the heart. There is no evidence that gluten causes any heart problems directly.

What are heart palpitations?

Heart palpitations are often referred to as sensations that the heart is missing a beat, adding an extra beat, or beating too hard or too fast. This sensation may be felt in the chest, neck, or throat [4]. Heart palpitations are usually described as an unpleasant feeling of the heartbeat. It is perceived as particularly fast, irregular, or intense [5].

Usually, heart palpitations are harmless and self-resolve without treatment. But in other cases, persistent, repetitive heart palpitations are an indication of a serious underlying condition [4].

Heart palpitations have many causes. These include bloated stomach, certain supplements, vaping or even certain medications can cause heart palpitations.

What is gluten?

Gluten is not a single substance but a complex group of proteins, mainly gliadin and glutenin. These occur naturally in grains such as wheat, rye, triticale, and barley [6, 7].

Gluten is often associated with pasta and bread. Gluten is the substance that gives these products their structure and consistency, and That is why gluten is referred to as the glue for bread [6, 7].

However, Gluten can also be found in other products, like soups and salad dressings [6].

What cardiovascular diseases can gluten cause?

Gluten on its own does not cause any cardiovascular diseases. However, celiac disease (CD), an autoimmune response to gluten, can lead to cardiovascular changes if left untreated. Unattended CD patients can develop cardiomyopathies, thrombosis, atherosclerosis, and stroke [8].

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Jakub Gwiazdecki

Jakub Gwiazdecki

Jakub is in his fifth year as a medical student at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. He has special interested in cardiology and in patient-centered medicine. His love for heart health isn't just book-smarts; he wants to know how it works, what it means for our feelings, and how key it is for health and happiness. Jakub thinks real good health care comes from always putting the patient at the centre, treating each person as a whole.