The Most Frightening of All Perimenopause Symptoms
First off: Most women who experience a fluttering, racing or irregular heartbeat have nothing to worry about. This is likely just one of the annoying symptoms of perimenopause that will go away with time.
However palpitations can be caused by many different things and only your health care provider can determine if there is an underlying problem – so please discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
After you have determined that your palpitations are perimenopause related, follow our suggestions about treatment if they are really bothersome and not merely frightening.
If you are in any way concerned about your palpitations see your health care provider. If you have chest pain or shortness of breath or any signs of a heart attack, seek medical help immediately.
What are Heart Palpitations – Perimenopause
When you have palpitations you may experience:
- Sudden racing heartbeat
- Fluttering sensations
- Dizziness or Lightheadedness
Some women say that they feel as if their heart wants to jump out of their chests; others feel more of an irregular heartbeat.
The symptoms can last from a few seconds to several minutes. Often, the palpitations in perimenopause follow, or accompany hot flashes or night sweats.
It is often difficult to distinguish between palpitations and panic attacks or perimenopause anxiety because the symptoms are very similar.
Women who had palpitations before perimenopause are especially vulnerable to this symptom.
Reasons for Heart Palpitations – Perimenopause
It is good to know that you are not alone when you are experiencing these symptoms and that your palpitations are very likely just a symptom of perimenopause. This leads us to the reason for palpitations: fluctuating hormone levels.
When your estrogen levels change they affect the regulatory mechanisms of the cardiovascular system.
Without going into much detail, estrogen widens the arteries and influences the regulation of the heartbeat by the central nervous system. When your natural hormone levels get thrown out of balance in perimenopause, the whole cardiovascular system is affected, incl. the system that regulates your heart beat, your blood vessels etc.
But other factors can also cause palpitations in perimenopause such as:
- Stress and Anxiety
- Fitness level
- Body weight
- Medications (incl. over the counter medications)
- Supplements (mostly diet pills) and some herbs (i.e. Ginkgo Bilboa)
- Thyroid problems
There are still a lot of unanswered questions about how female hormones affect the regulatory mechanisms such as heart rate, thermoregulation, neurotransmitters and the central nervous system. It appears that for every new answer, many more questions open up.
How to Stop Palpitations – Perimenopause
Deep breathing exercises are the most effective and quickest way to help your palpitations. Perimenopause is often a time of high stress with many different challenges, and deep breathing exercises are a great stress reliever.
With a little practice, they can be done anywhere and at any time. You may have to practice several times to get familiar with the rhythm and pattern of the breathing but they are the best quick treatment for palpitations and anxiety – and they even help with hot flash attacks.
Stress reduction is so important because stress increases the heart rate and causes long term health risks. It also makes most other menopause symptoms worse. At the bottom of the page we will give you the link to our page on relaxation techniques, so make sure you read on.
To the best of our knowledge, there are no herbal remedies that will directly help your heart palpitations. Perimenopause symptoms however respond well to some herbal remedies and following are the 4 best calming herbs that may help with your symptoms:
- Hops (also helpful for hot flashes)
- Valerian (best at night)
Also make sure that you get enough omega 3 fatty acids through diet or a supplement like fish oil. Omega 3-fatty acids lower high triglycerides and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They might even help with your palpitations and irregular heartrate and provide many other health benefits.
Do not exceed the recommended dose because too much omega 3 can increase the risk of stroke. If you have problems with the “fishy” aftertaste, use some of the newer enteric coated fish oil.
Hormone therapy can cause or stop your heart palpitations because it influences your estrogen levels. But if you consider hormone therapy for your symptoms and heart palpitations, perimenopause in the early stages may not be the best time. Only in the later stages of perimenopause will the estrogen level drop enough to avoid symptoms of too much estrogen (estrogen dominance).
Perimenopause and Palpitation Journal
If you suffer from palpitations in perimenopause, it is advisable to keep notes about your symptoms. They may help you pinpoint the causes (i.e. every time a hot flash strikes or after you drink coffee etc.) and will aid your health care provider in a diagnosis. Here are the things to track:
- Your heart rate (the normal resting heart rate for women is somewhere around 70-80 per minute.)
- What is the pattern of your palpitation?
- When did they occur?
- Where did it happen?
- What other symptoms did you feel (i.e. lightheadedness, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea etc)?
- Describe the heartbeat (fast or slow, pounding or fluttering, regular or irregular etc)
This journal is also valuable to keep track of all your other symptoms of perimenopause and your (irregular) monthly period.
Here is a brief video on how to check your heart rate:
To sum it all up:
- Heart palpitations in perimenopause are common.
- But it is important to rule out any underlying health problem when they start.
- The most likely cause for your irregular or pounding heart is the fluctuation in your hormone levels that affect the cardiovascular regulation of your body.
- Deep breathing exercises are the most effective treatment together with stress reduction.
- There are some herbal remedies that can help you keep calm.