Experiencing an irregular heart beat naturally prompts a great deal of worry and speculation; however it can be a symptom of the menopause. In this page, our menopause expert Eileen Durward explores how fluctuating hormones may affect the way the heart functions and discusses what can be done to ease symptoms.
The heart of the average adult women beats between 60 and 100 times a minute. However, some women experience abnormalities in this heartbeat when reaching the menopause. An irregular heartbeat can affect women in different ways, including a skipped heartbeat, faster heart rates or changes in the heart’s rhythm.
These can be worrying symptoms and many women who experience them fear that they are beginning to develop heart disease. However, in the majority of cases, this is just another symptom triggered by the menopause.
Episodes of irregular heartbeat may last from a few seconds to several minutes. The woman may notice that her heart is pounding or fluttering in her chest. This is sometimes accompanied by changes in breathing and sometimes a feeling of panic.
During the menopause, the amount of the hormone oestrogen gradually declines. However, this decline is not steady and often there are erratic fluctuations during the peri-menopause and menopause.
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.
Oestrogen 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 mean that the nervous system fluctuates between being highly stimulated to being stimulated very little, having a direct impact on heartbeat regularity.
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 are strong then your chances of being able to skim through the menopause without experiencing symptoms are higher. It is 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 lessen the symptoms of an irregular heartbeat. Stress can also result in other health problems, so it is important to tackle this problem.
Many menopausal women find that taking herbal remedies alongside implementing home remedies offers relief from their symptoms.
If stress is the root of your problems then there are herbal remedies 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 is 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, if your irregular heart beat is associated with chest pain, breathlessness or dizziness, then you must speak to your doctor. A range of treatments for various heart issues is available. However, if your irregular heartbeats are caused by the menopause, your doctor may suggest hormone treatments such as HRT.
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You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.