First off you might be wondering why the hell your heart is affected by menopause. A lot of women put it down to anxiety but it’s actually a case of biology.
The hormone oestrogen is hugely important in protecting your heart and blood vessels, bones, vagina, brain and skin. This means they can all be affected when levels or oestrogen are low. Oestrogen protects your heart in a few ways. The main one is reducing the build-up of fatty plaques in the arteries. This is why post-menopausal women are more at risk of heart disease and stroke.
What do they feel like?
You may feel palpitations in different ways. For example, it may be a pounding in your chest or neck or it could be more of a feeling of flutters in your chest. They will often last anything from a few seconds to a few minutes and are nothing to be concerned about. However, it’s understandable that you worry!
What can you do?
There are circumstances where you’d be advised to see your doctor to get things checked out and make sure that it is related to menopause and not something more serious that may require treatment. There are a ton of other conditions that cause palpitations so it is important to confirm that yours are due to menopause. If your palpitations only last a short time and only happen occasionally, it’s likely you’ll be fine and that there are no serious problems. You should see your GP if:
- the palpitations last for long periods of time, aren’t improving or get worse
- you have a history of heart problems
- you’re worrried about them
Your GP will be able to do some relatively simple tests such as blood tests and an ECG and may also refer you to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours which is simple, straightforward and non-invasive.
It is worthwhile to track your palpitations and take this information along to your GP appointment so they can use that to inform any decision making. Things to consider tracking are as follows:
- what time they occur
- how long they last
- what were you doing at the time
- had you had anything that could have influenced it such as stimulants? This includes things like caffeine, alcohol or nicotine
Whilst palpitations can cause worry, once you know it’s nothing to be concerned about, you will find them easier to live with. If you feel anxious about it and think that is possibly making it worse, try some relaxation exercises to keep you calm and relaxed. Feel free to get in touch with me through my contact page and I’m happy to try and help.