Supraventricular tachycardia induced by chocolate: is chocolate too sweet for the heart?

Am J Emerg Med. 2012 Sep;30(7):1325.e5-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2011.06.032. Epub 2011 Aug 25.


Conflicting studies have been published concerning the association between chocolate and cardiovascular diseases. Fewer articles have described the potential arrhythmogenic risk related to chocolate intake. We present a case of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia in a woman after consumption of large quantity of chocolate. A 53-year-old woman with no significant medical history presented to us with complaints of palpitations and shortness of breath after consuming large amounts of chocolate. Electrocardiogram showed supraventricular tachycardia at 165 beats per minute, which was restored to sinus rhythm after adenosine bolus injection. Electrophysiology studies showed atrioventricular nodal reentry tachycardia, which was treated with radiofrequency ablation. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which are methylxanthines and are competitive antagonists of adenosine and can have arrhythmogenic potential. Our case very well describes an episode of tachycardia precipitated by large amount of chocolate consumption in a patient with underlying substrate. There are occasional case reports describing association between chocolate, caffeine, and arrhythmias. A large Danish study, however, did not find any association between amount of daily caffeine consumption and risk of arrhythmia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Cacao / adverse effects*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Tachycardia, Supraventricular / etiology*
  • Tachycardia, Supraventricular / physiopathology