When most people think of menopause, some of the most common symptoms typically come to mind, like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and night sweats. But for some women, menopause and heart palpitations — the brief feeling that your heart is fluttering right out of your chest — are the most bothersome pairing.
We might not commonly think of heart palpitations as a menopause symptom, but the temporary feeling of skipped, fast, or super-intense heartbeats is actually something that many women experience. And trust us: Having your heart skip a beat isn’t as romantic as radio singles make it sound.
Can Menopause Cause Heart Palpitations?
In a word: Yes, for some people. But why they happen during menopause is a more complicated answer.
One possibility: Hormones. Per the Mayo Clinic, heart palpitations can be triggered by hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause. During perimenopause (the period right before menopause), your ovaries start to make less and less estrogen as they prepare to stop releasing eggs. (Menopause can also happen instantaneously to women who have had surgery to remove their ovaries.) The overall dip in hormones during this time affects your periods and can trigger certain other menopause symptoms. That drop in estrogen is also associated with a rise in heart rate and palpitations.
Frustratingly, there’s not a ton of research explaining why this can happen. Some experts believe that the sudden dip in estrogen might affect how your heart functions. (Estrogen benefits, among other things, how well blood flows through your veins and arteries.) Other changes that happen during menopause, like weight gain and sleep issues, can also negatively affect your heart health.
Heart palpitations might also be triggered by other health issues that happen during menopause. For example, stress and anxiety — which affect many of us in the menopausal years — can increase heart rate and cause palpitations. Hot flashes can also ramp up your heart rate while making you sweat and flush.
Keep in mind there are some other, non-menopause related causes of heart palpitations. Some medications (like cold medicine with pseudoephedrine) can affect your heart rate. Having a fever or low blood pressure can also lead to heart palpitations. Even dehydration can make your heart flutter or skip a beat temporarily.
How Common are Heart Palpitations in Menopause?
No matter the cause, heart palpitations during menopause are believed to be fairly common. A small 2013 study published in the journal Menopause suggests that anywhere from 28.7 to 46.9 percent of peri- and post-menopausal women experience heart palpitations.
A 2021 study in the Journal of Women’s Health also found that heart palpitations during menopause caused distress or discomfort for 25 percent of women who experienced them. Women with serious insomnia, stress, and depression were more likely to report palpitation distress.
Remedies for Heart Palpitations in Menopause
Typically, heart palpitations are temporary and don't usually require any specific treatment. But there are some natural remedies and lifestyle changes that can help alleviate heart palpitations during menopause, or prevent them from coming back:
Manage your stress. Easier said than done, we know. But meditative breathing, soothing yoga or stretches, taking a bath loaded with Epsom salts, or other calming practices can help you reduce stress and anxiety—and potentially help address your palpitations.
Cut back on coffee and alcohol: Don’t shoot the messenger, but stimulants like caffeine and booze can trigger heart palpitations. It just might be time to consider decaf.
Up your water intake. Hot flash-induced sweating might make you more at risk of dehydration. Make sure that you start your day with water, and drink it consistently throughout the day.
Talk to you doctor about your medications. As mentioned, some medications and supplements can trigger heart palpitations. Review the side effects of any medications you take, and talk to your doctor if you think your meds are contributing to what you feel.
How to Monitor Your Symptoms
Heart palpitations are usually benign and resolve themselves. However, they can also be a sign that there’s something more serious going on with your heart. That’s why it’s important to bring up heart rate changes with your doctor.
To make your discussion more productive, it’s helpful to track your symptoms in a journal or with notes on your phone. The Cleveland Clinic recommends that every time you feel a heart palpitation, try to record when it happened (date and time), how long it lasted, what you were doing when it started, and what else you’re feeling during the palpitation. Make a note of any patterns—were you feeling them mostly during hot flashes, for example? This might seem tedious, but doing a little detective work before you see a doctor can better help them figure out what’s going on.
Certain fitness wearables might also help make the detective work easier. Your Apple Watch can send you push notifications if it detects abnormal heart rates or rhythms, and also allows you to take an electrocardiogram (ECG) to capture and record your heart rhythm. The Fitbit Sense, Samsung Galaxy Watch, and Withings ScanWatch also offer similar capabilities. The captured ECG readings get saved to your phone for easy reference. Just remember that these sensors can be less accurate than what you’d get at a doctor’s office, so don’t use them as a substitute for professional care.
When to See a Doctor for Heart Palpitations
You should schedule an appointment with your doctor if your heart palpitations happen often, or are bothering you in any way. It’s also a good idea to get them checked out if you have a heart condition (like high blood pressure) or have a family history of heart issues.
Your doctor will likely ask you about your symptoms (which you’ve already been tracking!) to try and understand what the potential underlying cause is. They then might run some tests, including:
Electrocardiogram: This looks at the electrical activity of the heart to record your heart rhythm for a few seconds.
Holter monitors: These devices record your heart rhythm continuously for 24 hours. Your doctor attaches it to your chest before you go home.
Echocardiogram: Think of this as an ultrasound for your heart. This helps your doctor see what your heart physically looks like and how blood flows through it.
Blood and urine tests.
However, if you experience any of these symptoms with your heart palpitations, you should go to the emergency room ASAP:
Dizziness or confusion.
Chest pain or pressure.
Trouble breathing or shortness of breath.
Your Outlook After Menopause
Heart palpitations can be deeply uncomfortable and unsettling. But the good news is that they’re usually temporary, and often improve on their own.
But just because heart palpitations are common — and usually harmless — doesn’t mean you have to deal with them, especially if they’re causing you stress or anxiety. Talk to your doctor or menopause practitioner in order to get the help and support you deserve.
After menopause, you should still make efforts to prioritize your heart health. According to the American Heart Association, post-menopausal women have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Eating well, exercising regularly, and managing stress — along with getting your cholesterol levels and blood pressure checked regularly — will go a long way to keeping your ticker in tip-top shape for years to come.
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