Irregular heartbeat is a common symptom experienced by women during the menopausal transition. This cardiovascular phenomenon is often prompted by changes in estrogen levels, which occur naturally as a woman approaches menopause. While irregular heartbeat is often normal during this time, episodes are nevertheless sudden and alarming for many women. The first step towards managing irregular heartbeat during menopause is to learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of irregular heartbeat.
Irregular heartbeat during menopause
Irregular heartbeat, known medically as heart palpitations or tachycardia, occurs when the heart beats faster or more forcefully than normal. This often gives a woman an unpleasant awareness of her own heart beat. She may feel as if her heart has skipped a beat or is pounding out of her chest. Irregular heartbeat may or may not produce changes in heart rhythm.
Heart rhythm is coordinated by the heart’s own electrical system. With each heartbeat, an electrical impulse begins at the sinus or sinoatrial (SA) node, the heart’s natural pacemaker. The SA node produces the electrical impulses, which set the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. The impulse spreads through the right and left atrial walls, causing them to contract and force blood into the ventricles. This impulse reaches the atrioventricular (AV) node, which acts as an electrical bridge carrying impulses from the atria to the ventricles after a brief delay.
From the AV node, the impulse travels through a fiber pathway that sends the impulse into the ventricles causing them to contract. The contraction forces blood out of the heart to the lungs and body and the semilunar valves close.
In most people, the average heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute. In some people, such as those who regularly exercise or take certain medications, a normal heart rate can be around 55 beats per minute (sometimes even less).
How to measure pulse
To measure a woman’s heart rate at the wrist, put the index and middle finger on the inner side of the opposite wrist, just below the thumb base. Once the pulse is located, count the number of beats for one minute (or 30 seconds and double count). This will give a woman her heart beats per minute.
What causes irregular heartbeat during menopause?
During menopause, the most common cause of irregular heartbeat is fluctuations in estrogen levels. While this is the most common explanation for irregular heartbeat during menopause, other medical conditions can also cause or contribute to irregular heartbeat. It is important to understand all of these possible causes of irregular heartbeat.
Recent advances in cardiovascular medicine have helped experts to understand the significant role of estrogen in heart function. As a woman approaches menopause, the levels of estrogen produced by her endocrine system fluctuate and eventually decline, which can have a significant effect on her cardiovascular system.
For example, diminished estrogen levels can result in the overstimulation of the sympathetic autonomic nervous system, which can cause irregular heartbeat and heart palpitations.
Studies have found that declining levels in estrogen during perimenopause are correlated with irregular heartbeats, increased palpitation frequency, and non- threatening arrhythmias.
Although changes in estrogen are the most common cause of irregular heartbeat during menopause, other medical conditions and medications can also cause or contribute to irregular heartbeat. While these possible causes are numerous