Perimenopause is the stage before actual menopause takes place. Actual menopause is when you have not had a period for 12 months, following which you are in the postmenopause phase of your life.
Many perimenopausal women report episodes of heart palpitations, irregular heart beat or a pounding pulse.
Any one of us at any time can experience heart palpitations, however, menopause and heart palpitations can go together and are sometimes accompanied by hot flushes/night sweats or stress/anxiety.
You will be very aware of the sensation that your heart is either beating too fast or skipping a beat within a precise period of time.
Heart palpitations are also known as irregular heart beats or cardiac arrhythmia.
Pulse: rhythmic contraction and expansion of the arteries with each heartbeat.
Tachycardia: fast or irregular heartbeat – over 100 beats per minute.
Bradycardia: unusually slow heart rate.
Extrasystole: occasional extra heartbeat.
Arrhythmia: abnormal heart rhythm (not always present with irregular heartbeat).
Enhanced cardiac awareness: heart feels like it is pounding but pulse is normal.
Heart palpitations during perimenopause are normally considered to be a result of constantly fluctuating hormone levels. Studies have shown that fluctuating levels in estrogen during perimenopause and eventual decline is related to irregular heartbeats, non threatening arrhythmias and increased palpitation frequency.
If you are taking Hormone Replacement Therapy HRT you may also be ware of an increase in episodes of heart palpitations at the beginning of your treatment.
Menopause heart palpitations can increase your heart rate between 8 and 16 beats per minute. However, there are women who have reported heart rates of up to 200 beats per minute when experiencing heart palpitations.
When you experience heart palpitations for the first time it can be frightening but rest assured it will regulate itself again quite quickly.
Generally, menopause heart palpitations will discontinue within a few months when your hormones have settled.
Other Causes of Heart Palpitations
Obviously, perimenopause is not the only cause of heart palpitations, therefore, it is very important to get any irregular heart beat checked out by your healthcare professional to rule out any abnormalities.
The most common cause of heart palpitations is the consumption of too many stimulants i.e. alcohol, nicotine, decongestants, caffeine and diet pills. Additionally, fluid loss (dehydration) can cause an imbalance in your electrolytes. All of these send your heart into turmoil and cause it to beat irregularly.
Hypoglycaemia, anemia and some thyroid conditions can all cause heart palpitations. Sometimes they can be an indication of heart disease or valve disorders. Post menopausal women are at an increased risk of heart disease, however, it would be rare for a perimenopausal woman to develop any symptoms of these diseases.
How to Measure Pulse
Put your index and middle finger on the inner side of the opposite wrist, just below the base of the thumb. Once you have located your pulse, count the number of beats for one minute to give you your heartbeats per minute. Alternatively you can count for 30 seconds x 2 or 15 seconds x 4.
What Can You Do To Help Alleviate Menopause Heart Palpitations?
• Moderate or eliminate (depending on the severity of your symptoms) your intake of stimulants; caffeine, alcohol, nicotine
• Should you be carrying out an activity at the time your heart starts to beat irregularly you must REST. It is important that you rest as your body needs time to recover. Lie down and breathe deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth, for 5 minutes.
• Regular periods of meditation may help.
• Advanced relaxation techniques will help you to achieve a good level of control over your heart.
• It is a good idea to know how to take your pulse and to know what your normal heart rate is – you will then know if and when you are experiencing heart palpitations.
- Heart palpitations can make you feel anxious which may make the symptom worse, therefore, always seek reassurance from your healthcare professional in order to rule out any other problem.
If you heart rate is extremely high and is accompanied by dizziness, tightness in the chest or neck you must seek immediate medical attention.
Menopause and Palpitations. Retrieved from http://www.cardiachealth.org/menopause-and-palpitations
Dealing with the symptoms of menopause. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/dealing_with_the_symptoms_of_menopause
Women and Abnormal Heart Beats. Retrieved from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/heart/disorders/arrhythmia/women-abnormal-heart-beats
Menopause and Heart Palpitations. Retrieved from http://www.epigee.org/menopause/palpitations.html
Symptoms – heart palpitations. Retrieved from http://www.womenshealthnetwork.com/yourhealth/symptoms/heartpalpitations.aspx