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Can digestion problem stimulate vagus nerve and cause bradycardia?

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Posted on Mon, 25 May 2015
Question: Hello doctor. I am a little bit concerned right now. I had all my cardiac tests done by my cardiologist 2 months ago for the 2nd time. Everything was structurally normal and in sinus rhythm. The holter showed approximately 400 pacs over 48 hours and 15 pvcs. No heart block or heart disease. I reached 90 percent of my maximum heart rate during stress test. One thing that concerned me was some slight bradycardia. My resting heart rate sometimes goes down into the low 50s. It is weird because it feels like it is happening because of digestion problems. For example I will feel like I did not properly digest my food or feel like there is food in my esophagus and when I check my pulse it is very slow for 5 to 7 beats and then speeds up. My Holter showed my heart rate went to 41 during sleep but no significant pauses and always in sinus rhythm.

I am concerned because sometimes even when I am working in my kitchen ( I am a chef) I will feel this digestion problem and even while standing I will get some very slow heart beats around 52 bpm. Then it will speed up again. Can digestion problems be stimulating the vagus nerve and causing the bradycardia? Is this dangerous? My cardiologist insists my heart and heart rate are completely healthy

Thank you
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Answered by Dr. Ilir Sharka (32 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Nothing dangerous for your health!

Detailed Answer:

Hello XXXX!

Thank you for being again on HCM!

You are right when you ask about the vagus nerve stimulation and the resulting bradycardia, as your transient heart rate lowering (those slower 5 to 7 beats) seems to be related exactly to a vagus nerve increased driving.

You have to relax, as it does not signify any dangerous health disorders. No any risks from those momentary slow beats, besides that initial triggering unpleasant indigestion feeling.

A point to consider, is the reason why you experience that indigestion complain, and the resting food feeling in esophagus.

Probably you should consult with a gastroenterologist for a physical exam, and possibly a fibrogastroscopy to investigate any potential identifiable reasons for that indigestion.

These digestive problems may exacerbate vagus nerve response and produce all those heart rate issues.

So, facing the overall clinical scenario, your heart looks perfectly normal, regarding structural and functional components (performed tests confirm such a conclusion).

Hope to have been helpful to you. Greetings! Dr. Iliri
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Raju A.T
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Answered by
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Dr. Ilir Sharka

Cardiologist

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 8284 Questions

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Can digestion problem stimulate vagus nerve and cause bradycardia?

Brief Answer: Nothing dangerous for your health! Detailed Answer: Hello XXXX! Thank you for being again on HCM! You are right when you ask about the vagus nerve stimulation and the resulting bradycardia, as your transient heart rate lowering (those slower 5 to 7 beats) seems to be related exactly to a vagus nerve increased driving. You have to relax, as it does not signify any dangerous health disorders. No any risks from those momentary slow beats, besides that initial triggering unpleasant indigestion feeling. A point to consider, is the reason why you experience that indigestion complain, and the resting food feeling in esophagus. Probably you should consult with a gastroenterologist for a physical exam, and possibly a fibrogastroscopy to investigate any potential identifiable reasons for that indigestion. These digestive problems may exacerbate vagus nerve response and produce all those heart rate issues. So, facing the overall clinical scenario, your heart looks perfectly normal, regarding structural and functional components (performed tests confirm such a conclusion). Hope to have been helpful to you. Greetings! Dr. Iliri