Menopause and heart palpitations

 

Palpitations and an elevated heart rate are common during menopause. Many women find that these symptoms are associated with hot flushes, although they can happen at other times too.

Read on to find out more about causes, treatments and when you should think about seeing a doctor.

PALPITATIONS DEFINITION

We are not usually aware of our heart beating. However, in certain circumstances, we may begin to feel it. This can take the form of a thumping, fluttering or pounding sensation in the chest, also known as palpitations. You may also feel ‘missed’ beats or an increased heart rate. 

Palpitations can happen for a range of reasons and are often harmless. However, you may need to see your doctor to rule out any serious causes.

If you are spending your days frustrated about your menopause symptoms… download Stella.

HOW LIKELY ARE PALPITATIONS DURING MENOPAUSE?

  • These symptoms are common
  • One study found that between 20-40% of women experience palpitations while going through menopause

Read more about the stages of menopause.

How to keep your heart healthy

1.

Stop smoking

2.

Reduce alcohol

3.

Exercise regularly

4.

Get weight under control with a BMI under 25

5.

Healthy diet – low in saturated fat and sugar, high in fibre, fruit and vegetables

Speak to your GP – they may advise further tests including a blood pressure check or blood tests for cholesterol and blood sugar.

HOW CAN YOU MINIMALISE PALPITATIONS CAUSED BY MENOPAUSE?

1. Engage in regular exercise

2. Get enough sleep

3. Avoid caffeine

4. Avoid alcohol

5. Avoid spicy foods

6. Stop smoking

7. Avoid illegal drugs (including cocaine, amphetamine, heroin, cannabis and ecstasy)

8. See your doctor if your palpitations do not settle


WOULD HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERARY (HRT) HELP?

Some women find that HRT helps to reduce their palpitations. HRT is also useful in treating menopausal symptoms including hot flushes, mood changes and sleep disturbance, among others.

However, HRT is not suitable for everyone. If you would like to find out more about your personal treatment options, speak to your doctor.

Read more about the HRT debate.

Palpitations and menopause

The ‘female’ hormone oestrogen has many different effects on the body, some of which can be beneficial for the heart and circulatory system.

These include protecting against coronary artery disease and helping to control cholesterol levels

During menopause, the ovaries begin to produce less oestrogen. It is thought that this reduced level of oestrogen can lead to palpitations, although the exact mechanism is still unclear.

Palpitations or an increased heart rate can also be caused by a number of different conditions, including heart disease and thyroid problems. These become more common at menopause as we lose the protective effect of oestrogen..

Palpitations are usually harmless, but can be dangerous in some circumstances.

You should seek urgent help if you are having palpitations with a shortness of breath, tightness or pain in your chest, dizziness, fainting, feeling lightheaded or passing out. Also if you have a history of heart problems or are worried.

Palpitations which last for more than a few minutes, which start while you are exercising or which are associated with a fast heart rate (over 100) should also be checked out urgently.

 

Also see your GP if your palpitations are recurrent or last a long time.

You have a history of heart problems, thyroid problems, anaemia or any other medical condition which you think may be related.

Your palpitations become disruptive or upsetting.

You are concerned for any other reason.

I’ve been really focusing on my exercise and it’s helped keep my weight under control.”

Emily

DISCOVER MORE

When to go and see your doctor during menopause. Read more

Five ways to improve your nutrition during menopause. Read more

Why is the fun police on about my menopausal lifestyle? Read more

WHAT PALPITATIONS RELIEF IS AVAILABLE?

Download Stella for personalised cognitive behaviour therapy for managing symptoms during menopause

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Watson S, Menopause and Heart Palpitations, Healthline, accessed 7th March 2021 https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/menopause-and-heart-palpitations

NHS, 2019, Heart palpitations and ectopic beats, accessed 6th March 2021 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heart-palpitations/ 

Bruce D and Rymer J, Symptoms of the menopause, Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Volume 23, Issue 1, 2009, Pages 25-32,

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1521693408001387?via%3Dihub 

Carpenter JS, Sheng Y, Elomba CD et al, A Systematic Review of Palpitations Prevalence by Menopausal Status. Curr Obstet Gynecol Rep 10, 7–13 (2021) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13669-020-00302-z

 British Heart Foundation, Menopause and heart disease, accessed 7th March 2021 https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/support/women-with-a-heart-condition/menopause-and-heart-disease 

Newson L, Menopause and your heart, British Heart Foundation, accessed 6th March 2021 https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/medical/women/menopause-and-your-heart 

NHS 2018, Cardiovascular disease, accessed 7th March 2021 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cardiovascular-disease/ Tidy C, 2017, Palpitations, Patient, accessed 7th March 2021 https://patient.info/heart-health/palpitations-leaflet