I often find some weeks a specific symptom comes up again and again in client consultations - this week I seem to have been attracting heart palpitations. A feeling of giddiness and heart palpitations can be very common in Perimenopause and very scary too.
What is a heart palpitation?
This is when you feel a fluttering or pounding heart beat - you will feel your heart is racing and beating much faster than normal. You heart can also skip a beat at intervals during palpitations. This intense feeling can extend from your chest up to your neck and throat.
This can be extremely frightening to experience even if just for a few minutes. In most cases palpitations are not usually a sign of an issue with your heart but very often due to other lifestyle factors.
Often to make things trickier they can happen at the same time as a hot flush.
What can cause palpitations?
From my experience with the women I have worked with lifestyle factors are the biggest cause and primarily ongoing chronic stress and anxiety. This is why I think we see it so much in menopause because we know this is a time when anxiety is heightened and the physical manifestation can be palpitations. The fall in oestrogen in these years also compounds the issue.
There are other factors too that can cause palpitations-
Smoking - this is one of the biggest enemies to menopause
Low blood sugar levels or low blood pressure
Irregular heart rhythms
Some cough and cold medicines which contain the ingredient Pseudoephedrine
What to do:
The very first step is to look at your lifestyle and really take stock - are you under stress ? Are you anxious ?
Smoking - If you spoke please talk to your doctor about ways to stop, it really is no friend to you. Research also suggests that women who smoke will have menopause earlier and with greater symptoms.
Alcohol & Caffeine - reduce, eliminate if you can, either in excess again will make the journey harder.
Exercise - incorporate activity into your daily life, this will help you in so many ways - stress, anxiety, weight all benefit from daily exercise. It doesn’t have to be a marathon gym session but a brisk walk or something you enjoy even for just 15 minutes per day will help you.
Sleep - ensure you get a good nights sleep.
Incorporate relaxation techniques into your life - breathing, yoga, meditation are all really good
Diet - more fruits, greens, whole grains. Try reduce salt & sugar.
When to see your Doctor:
If the palpitations don’t happen very often and only last a few seconds when they do then you can help this by making some of the lifestyle changes above. Especially look at anxiety & stress - bear in mind too the catch with palpitations is that they can happen when you're at your calmest but underneath, like the iceberg analogy, there is loads going on.
However if they start to happen more often and last longer with each episode then it is worth ruling out - overactive thyroid / anemia / or other heart issues.
Your Doctor will generally take full bloods and if warranted recommend an ECG.
Remember heart palpitations are very common in perimenopause and many women find once they make small tweaks to their lifestyle it can make a huge difference.
Remember too that just because you have finished menopause and enter the Post Menopause period this doesn’t mean you can stop thinking about your heart health - it is just as important and again lifestyle factors mentioned above are key.
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