Some people may worry about heart palpitations during menopause as the two can be linked. Most menopausal heart palpitations are harmless, but people should consult a doctor to be sure.
Some may view menopause as a significant milestone: a transition into middle age. Others may worry about well-known symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
Although menopause is a natural and healthy transition, it can come with some uncomfortable side effects. Common symptoms include vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex, difficulty sleeping, low mood, anxiety, reduced sex drive, and problems with memory and concentration.
Heart palpitations are not widely talked about with regards to menopause and are thus more likely to take menopausal people by surprise. They can occur because of hormone changes during not just menopause but also periods and pregnancy, and they are often temporary.
Heart palpitations are also called irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias. These are heartbeats that are suddenly more noticeable than regular heartbeats.
During a palpitation, the heart may pound, flutter, race, or beat irregularly. Palpitations are often short-lived, lasting just a few seconds or, at worse, a few minutes.
Palpitations may seem alarming, but they are often harmless and do not necessarily signal a serious problem. However, people should still contact a doctor if they occur.
Causes of menopause heart palpitations
A person who sometimes feels their heart racing or missing a beat could be undergoing menopause heart palpitations. This is a common symptom of perimenopause.
Perimenopause is the time before menopause. Menopause occurs when a female has not had a period for 12 months. Afterward, these people are said to be in the postmenopause phase.
Heart palpitations are a direct result of lower levels of the hormone estrogen, which leads to an overstimulation of the heart.
Such a drop in hormone production can be linked to an increase in both heart rate and frequency in palpitations, and nonthreatening arrhythmias.
While palpitations are usually harmless, a person experiencing them should not ignore them. A person should consult a doctor for a diagnosis and to rule out any abnormalities.
Doctors will particularly want to investigate whether the palpitations are linked to a shortness of breath, dizziness, or chest discomfort.
Menopause heart palpitations can increase heart rates by 8–16 beats per minute. Some people, however, have reported much bigger increases, with their heart rates reaching up to 200 beats per minute.
Menopausal females who experience irregular heartbeats are often treated using natural methods. When the problems are caused by reduced levels of estrogen, the treatment can involve lifestyle changes and natural remedies combined.
A few lifestyle changes may help cut down the occurrence of menopausal palpitations. These include:
According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), females, in general, have a lower risk of being affected by coronary heart disease (CHD) before menopause. Afterward, the risk of CHD increases and continues to rise.
A doctor may prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help relieve unpleasant symptoms in people who experience them.
In the past, it was thought that HRT had the added benefit of helping to protect females against CHD. However, more recent research suggests that this is not so.
Also, the BHF maintains that some forms of HRT may slightly increase the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) and stroke.
It is important to remember, however, that HRT can be highly effective for relieving menopausal symptoms. Indeed, for most menopausal people, especially those below the age of 60, the benefits of HRT outweigh the risks.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, of course. Every person is different, which is why it is important to speak with a doctor about whether HRT is appropriate.
Heart disease risk goes up for everyone as they get older. However, for females, there is a marked increase after menopause. Hence, it is vital to do everything possible to keep the heart healthy.
Good nutrition has an important part to play. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, fish, and poultry can help. People should also avoid putting on excess weight, as it can add strain to the heart and increase blood pressure.
However, there is more to keeping healthy than just nutrition and maintaining a moderate weight.
Research reported by the North American Menopause Society suggests that a history of depression is another risk factor for CAD and is based on a female’s age. It showed that females under the age of 65 are more likely to develop CAD, owing to depression, than older females.
While scientists have yet to discover exactly why depression and heart disease are linked, it is known that depression increases the production of stress hormones in the body.
These hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, can make heart rates speed up and blood pressure rise.
People with depression can improve their overall health and the health of their heart with treatment. This could be by performing self-coping mechanisms, seeking medical therapy, or both.
The National Women’s Health Resource Center suggests the following as good coping mechanisms:
- Avoid being too hard on oneself.
- Keep active.
- Socialize and spend time with others.
- Set achievable goals.
If a person is going through perimenopause and is experiencing symptoms that involve the heart, these mood-lifting activities may be of use.
Other ideas for lifting one’s mood include:
- listening to some favorite music
- being spontaneous
- curling up with a good book
- settling down to watch a comedy or movie on TV
- playing with a pet
Anyone who thinks they may have depression should immediately talk with their doctor or other healthcare professional.