Heart Palpitations? It Might Be an Electrolyte Imbalance

  Monday, September 7, 2020

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Everything seems normal, and then, you notice your heart throbbing, pounding, fluttering, or skipping a beat. You can’t help but feel anxious and might even worry you’re about to have a heart attack. You end up going to the doctor for a checkup, and the provider mentions your heart palpitations could be an electrolyte imbalance. Part of you is relieved. After all, an electrolyte imbalance sure sounds better than a heart attack. You’re also confused, though. What is an electrolyte imbalance, and what does it have to do with heart palpitations? And then, how do you fix the problem?

Let’s dive in, so you’ll understand the problem and the solution.

Electrolytes 101 

Electrolytes are essential minerals that contain an electric charge (MedlinePlus, n.d.). You get electrolytes from food and fluids, and they help with various processes in your body. For example, electrolytes are responsible for balancing your pH levels, moving nutrients to the necessary cells, and removing waste from cells. They also make sure that the heart, brain, muscles, and nerves work properly. 

What Causes an Electrolyte Imbalance?

You can suffer an electrolyte imbalance for an assortment of reasons (Faith Addiss, 2018). For example, you might have an electrolyte imbalance if you are losing too many fluids or not drinking enough water. Failing to eat enough can also cause an imbalance. You also might have this problem if you’re taking certain medicines or have a chronic respiratory issue.

If you’re relatively healthy, it’s most likely that your electrolytes are out of balance due to your diet. Failing to eat and drink the right foods and beverages is a surefire way to get your system out of balance. 

What Symptoms Can You Expect if You Have an Imbalance? 

Heart palpitations are just one of the numerous symptoms you can expect if you have an electrolyte imbalance. Other symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, and trembling. You also might experience nausea that could lead to vomiting. Dry mouth and skin, muscle weakness, and aching joints are other symptoms. Generally, you can expect to feel unwell if your electrolytes are imbalanced.

How to Keep Your Electrolytes Balanced

Unless you have a health condition, it’s pretty easy to keep your electrolytes balanced by eating the right foods. Let’s look at different electrolytes and the foods you can eat to stay balanced. (Rush University Medical Center, n.d.).


Magnesium regulates heart rhythm, nerve function, and muscle contractions. If you’re suffering from an electrolyte balance and heart palpitations, you need to make sure you’re eating enough magnesium. 

You can get an ample amount of magnesium by eating:

  • Leafy Green Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Nuts
  • Dried Beans
  • Lentils 


Potassium is generally the mineral that people connect to low electrolytes. You’ve probably eaten a banana after a workout to reload on potassium and avoid leg cramps. It’s also responsible for regulating your heart, so you want to make sure you get enough of it. 

To make sure you get in enough potassium, eat:

  • Bananas
  • Cooked Spinach
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Plain Nonfat Yogurt
  • Avocados
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Oranges
  • Melons
  • Prunes
  • Raisins


Chloride balances the fluids in your body. It’s easy to end up low on chloride, so eat a diet with foods like:

  • Olives
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Seaweed
  • Rye


Calcium does more than keep your bones and teeth healthy and strong. It also stabilizes your blood pressure. If your blood pressure gets out of whack, you could notice some problems with your heart. Make sure you get enough calcium by eating a diet full of:

  • Milk Products
  • Meat
  • Fish with Bones
  • Eggs
  • Asparagus
  • Collard Greens
  • Figs

Stay on Track with a Food Diary

These are just some examples of the foods you need to eat to keep your electrolytes balanced. Stay on track by monitoring your food intake and symptoms with a food diary

With the help of a food diary, you can easily connect the dots between your diet and your symptoms and then make the necessary changes. 

Health Disclaimer

JournalOwl is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, medication, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptoms or conditions. JournalOwl is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. You should never disregard professional psychological or medical advice, or delay in seeking treatment, based on anything you read on JournalOwl’s website or platform.

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