Are you suffering from a fluttering or pounding heartbeat? It could be a surprising symptom of the menopause or peri-menopause
Normally the heart of an average adult women beats between 60 and 100 times a minute. But when reaching menopause or peri-menopause, some women will experience heartbeat abnormalities*. An irregular heartbeat can be a skipped heartbeat, faster heart rates or even changes in the heart’s rhythm.
These episodes can last from a few seconds to several minutes. You may notice that your heart is pounding or fluttering in your chest. This is sometimes accompanied by changes in breathing and often a feeling of panic.
What causes palpations during the menopause?
During the menopause, the amount of the oestrogen in our bodies gradually declines. This decline is not steady and often there are erratic fluctuations during the peri-menopause and menopause. Palpitations will often come on when you’re in the middle of a hot flush.
Oestrogen has an effect on the dilation of the coronary arteries. When low, the arteries contract, and when high, they dilate. This can lead to changes in blood pressure and heart rhythm. It also has an effect on the autonomic nervous system which regulates the unconscious functions of the body such as heart rate and breathing. Changes in oestrogen levels means that the nervous system fluctuates between being highly stimulated to being stimulated very little. This has a direct impact on the regularity of our heartbeat.
What can I do to help it?
- Regular aerobic exercises are important for keeping your heart strong and healthy. Walking and swimming are particularly effective as they work all of your muscles but do not negatively impact your joint health.
- Eating a healthy balanced diet will keep your body fit and well. If you're strong then you stand more of a chance of experiencing mild symptoms. It's important to keep drinking plenty of water. This will keep you hydrated and prevent the effects of changes in artery dilations from becoming prominent.
- Stress is one of the greatest contributors towards abnormalities in heart rhythm. Taking time each day to relax will help to ease the symptoms of an irregular heartbeat.
- Try a herbal remedy. Many menopausal women find that taking herbal remedies offers relief from their symptoms:
If stress is the root of your problems then try a herbal remedy such as Valerian, which should make you feel more at ease.
Crataegus, or Hawthorn, is one of the most widely used herbs for the heart. However, it's important to remember that this remedy can take 3 to 6 months to begin to take effect so is not an instant cure.
*If you are worried about your condition, or your irregular heart beat is associated with chest pain, breathlessness or dizziness, then you must speak to your doctor.
Further reading on the menopause:
- For more expert health advice get a copy of Yours Magazine, out every fortnight, on a Tuesday.