Menopause is indeed a significant season of transition in the life of a woman. But then, it is not free of worries. Some women may worry about the fact that their childbearing years are coming to an end. But for most women who have stopped childbearing, the well-known symptoms of menopause are usually their concern. Some of these symptoms include night sweats and hot flashes. A less-known but common symptom is heart palpitation. Palpitations often occur when you are having an episode of hot flashes, another common symptom of menopause. What’s the deal with heart palpitations and menopause? What could possibly cause palpitations? What can you do about them? How dangerous are they? Are there possible complications?
When a woman is going through the season of menopause, many changes will occur in her body. There are also usually a few symptoms that occur alongside these body changes. Menopause occurs in phases. And the symptoms of one phase differ from the others. These symptoms are results of fluctuating hormone levels. As your hormones fluctuate, one of the symptoms you may experience is heart palpitations. The fluctuations can make your heart flutter and pound. When you have a fluttering or pounding heartbeat, the doctors call it heart palpitations. Heart palpitations and menopause have a close link. In this article, we will tell you all you need to know about them.
Heart Palpitations and Menopause
Heart palpitations come with diverse presentations. Your heart may race, beat irregularly, or flutter when you are having heart palpitations. It is not uncommon to experience these symptoms during menopause and even the year that leads up to it.
Heart palpitation is the same thing as arrhythmia. It is the same thing that some people call an irregular heartbeat. In simple terms, this occurs when you suddenly begin to notice your heartbeat, unlike regular heartbeats.
Palpitations are self-limiting. They often do not last too long. Usually, they resolve within a few seconds (minutes at most). They may seem very alarming, but the truth is that they are absolutely harmless. They do not even signify any serious problem in most cases.
But then, you should still speak with your doctor if you have palpitations. Don’t just ignore it. But let your mind be at rest. It’s usually nothing serious.
What cases these palpitations are the fluctuating hormones in your body. As you approach menopause, your body will make fewer amounts of the sex hormones – progesterone and estrogen. Meanwhile, estrogen levels can affect heart function.
Lower estrogen levels can cause your heart to be overstimulated. As such, your heart rate may increase and you may experience palpitations more often. But again, these arrhythmias are usually non-threatening.
If your palpitations are occasional, you have nothing to worry about. You should, however, be alarmed if they become very frequent, occurring several in a day. But even if they occur rarely, non-threatening palpitations do not last beyond some seconds.
So then, you can tell that your palpitations require serious medical intervention if they occur rather too often and last for a long time (beyond 1 or 2 few minutes). You should also watch out for palpitations that worsens over time.
When these are present, you never can tell. The palpitations may be because of a more serious problem with your heart when the presentation is atypical. And such problems may need urgent treatment. More so, you should get urgent medical help if you experience chest pain, short breath, or dizziness alongside palpitations.
How to Prevent and Palpitations
You can prevent palpitations with the following certain tips. We will share some of them with you shortly.
To start with, you should avoid anything that can increase your heart rate. Some of such things include:
- Chocolate, coffee, energy drinks, soda, and any other product that has caffeine in it
- Nicotine, alcohol, and all recreational drugs (e.g. cocaine)
- Spicy foods
- Flu medicines that contain pseudoephedrine (a stimulant)
Sometimes, stress could also make your heart pound. So you should try de-stressing with a good relaxation technique. Examples include yoga, deep breathing, and massage.
At times, palpitation may signal that you have a heart condition. So then, you should take steps to protect your heart if you are in menopause. If you are at risk for heart problems or you already have one, your doctor may prescribe calcium channel-blockers or beta-blockers to sustain your heart’s normal rhythm.
For some women, hormone therapy helps to either prevent or decrease their palpitations. This is expected to happen since hormonal fluctuations are the cause of palpitations in the first place. More so, hormonal therapy will also prevent or treat other menopause symptoms, such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes.
However, you should be careful with hormone therapy. There are major risks associated with it. It increases the risks of blood clots, stroke, and heart disease. It also increases the risks of breast cancer.
As such, hormone therapy is not for everyone. So you should discuss with your healthcare provider to be sure if hormone therapy is the right option for you.
Anyways, the following are more tips that can help protect your heart’s health and prevent palpitations:
- Walk, swim, ride bikes, or perform an aerobic exercise routine 30 minutes daily for at least 5 days weekly
- Eat more veggies, fruits, fish, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains. As part of your heart-healthy diet, reduce your intake of salt, added sugars, saturated fats, and cholesterol.
- Get your BP (blood pressure) under control. Also, manage your cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Get prescriptions from your doctor to lower them if they are too high.
- Keep up a healthy weight for your height and body type
- Quit smoking, if you do, Get help on this, if need be
Menopause palpitations are typically not harmless. However, as we said before, you should not simply ignore them. If you are experiencing palpitations, you should consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis. That way, you can rule out heart problems and any other abnormalities.
Heart palpitations and menopause have a close link. Menopause can increase your heart rate by as much as 8-16 beats per minute. But then, you can take steps to prevent them from happening. And if they are happening already, you should consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis and possible treatment strategies.