You all know that I am not afraid to tackle sensitive topics. I’ve thrown down the gauntlet and discussed constipation, proper pooping habits, gas and burps, stinky underarms, stinky “nether regions” and more! So why not address a rather interesting question I received from one of my regular and longtime readers? Here is what she was wondering:
“Hi Jennifer! I was hoping that you can help me out. I have struggled with anxiety over the years and am very aware of all the goofy things my hearts does in response to stress. But recently, I have noticed something rather odd. Every time I get a little heart palpitation, a minor one mind you, I have a bowel movement. What can you tell me about this? You seem to be an expert on poop.”
Ha! A poop expert. That I am not, although I know far more than I probably would like to about all things poop. I don’t mind researching bowel function and the elimination process so naturally, I was game to tackle the not-so-complex question of…
Can Heart Palpitations Trigger Bowel Movements?
I will keep things UBER simple. Poop doesn’t rely on gravity alone to make its way out the exit. It needs a little push in the general direction. You know, sort of like giving your car a little gas on an uphill climb. Poop needs that kick start. And so, the heart steps in. Your heart rate will increase a bit because your blood pressure must rise to stimulate the bowel movement. For those individuals who are super sensitive to changes in their heart rate, it may feel like a heart palpitation occurred.
Now a true palpitation is more like a flutter or a skipped beat. It isn’t really an increase in the heart rate. So technically, it is not a heart palpitation that triggers a bowel movement but just an increase in the heart rate. If you are having a true heart palpitation before a bowel movement it is possible that other things are going on.
Having suffered from ulcerative colitis, I know that I personally experienced heart palpitations as part of my flare. People who suffer from IBS and Chron’s also report heart palpitations as part of their symptom list. I personally feel this is because bowel dysfunction sort of enhances one’s awareness of their physical processes. So people tend to be more aware of that is happening in their body. I also think that any sort of IBS-like disease is accompanied by other health issues which could play a role in the heart palpitations. But don’t take my word for it. This study backs up my hypothesis.
Now let’s get a little out there. I lurk (in a good way) on all kinds of health forums! One little nugget of insight I see popping up over and over again related to heart palpitations are the release of parasites from the intestinal wall. When they are released, they come out in your poop. Fascinating. So of course, I had to dig deeper.
My research led me to a phone call with a trusted medical practitioner that I see from time to time. What I had researched had me a bit perplexed and I wanted to get his take on things. Here is what I learned.
Parasites that are living exclusively in the intestines won’t necessarily cause heart palpitations when they are “released” nor will heart palpitations trigger the release. A parasite release may trigger a change in heart rate because once they are released there will be a change in your system and it could certainly cause your heart to do something outside of its ordinary pattern. However, a release of parasites from the intestines typically won’t cause or be caused by heart palpitations.
The scary thing is that if you are experiencing heart palpitations AND have a parasitic infection, it could be that you have parasites in your heart. So you want to get that checked out with. And parasites do wreak havoc on your entire system regardless of where they are residing so they can cause all kinds of issues including irregular heartbeats.
Now that I’ve worried you a bit, let’s look at one last scenario that I personally find a wee bit entertaining. The fight or flight “dump.”
I actually learned this 15+ years ago from a police officer after my house was broken into. You see, the punks who broke in pooped their pants (likely because I rolled up on them while they were in my house). They left their soiled clothing behind, under the window they came in and out of. When I discovered this disgusting mess, the officer told me that when kids/teens/younger adults commit these sort of crimes, they can almost always tell the amateurs from the pros. The amateurs poop their pants. Gross and kind of funny right?
It all comes down to a fight or flight response. These kids get all hyped up on adrenaline. Their heart is racing. They are trying to beat the clock and not get caught. Their system functions all hibernate while their heart pumps and pumps! And then – they get spooked. And the body goes into flight mode. This means that it needs to get rid of any extra weight so they can move faster. And my friends – out comes the poop! Yep. Totally common in a flight type scenario.
I love telling that story. But think about it for a minute. It makes perfect sense. As gross as it is.
And there you have it. I suppose the bottom line (<—– see what I did there) is that yes, heart palpitations might be perceived as a trigger for a bowel movement although really it is an increase in heart rate that is responsible. But there is so much more to it that one should not look at any heart palpitation as a normal thing. Do get that checked out.