If you can occasionally feel your heart racing or missing a beat for no reason your could be experiencing menopause heart palpitations, another common symptom of perimenopause.
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.
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.
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.
If you heart rate is extremely high and is accompanied by dizziness, tightness in the chest or neck you must seek immediate medical attention.
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