When women experience a decrease in estrogen, as they do during menopause, they often suffer from heart palpitations, which are basically racing heartbeats. These palpitations are usually connected to other symptoms associated with this time in a woman's life, such as hot flashes. But it's often better to err on the side of caution, so a consultation with a medical professional isn't out of the ordinary.
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The National Institutes of Health define heart palpitations as the sensation of racing, rapid or pounding heartbeats. For some people, it may even manifest as a feeling that the heart is actually skipping a beat. Though they're often disconcerting, palpitations are rarely a cause for alarm, reassures the Mayo Clinic. They're usually brought on by some type of stimulus that causes the heart to race, such as hormonal changes that would be seen with a decrease in estrogen.
As women age, their ovaries begin to make less estrogen. This decline in estrogen often becomes more prominent when a woman reaches her 40s, indicating the onset of menopause. During this period of life, it isn't uncommon to experience sudden dips in hormone levels, which can cause what is known as vasomotor reactions in the body. This brings about dilation and constriction of the blood vessels, triggering the symptoms commonly associated with menopause. One of which these symptoms is heart palpitations.
Heart palpitations due to a decrease in estrogen don't typically manifest without other symptoms. For most women, palpitations are accompanied by a hot flash. They either precede the hot flash or occur during this sudden warming of the skin. Women can also experience some level of pressure in the head, intense heat, a flushing of the skin and sudden perspiration, indicates the Mayo Clinic.
Though palpitations associated with a decrease in estrogen are usually harmless, this doesn't mean that they should be ignored. If a woman were to experience palpitations, it's recommended by the National Institutes of Health to consult with a doctor, especially when these palpitations are linked to a shortness of breath, dizziness or chest discomfort, advises the Mayo Clinic. It's also wise to contact a doctor if pain or discomfort manifests in other areas of the body, such as the arm, shoulder, neck or jaw. It may be a sign of an underlying condition, such as heart disease or even heart attack.
It's possible to treat heart palpitations due to a decrease in estrogen by treating the cause, which is typically menopause. Palpitations may lessen with the use of hormone therapy. This involves supplementing the body with estrogen. However, if a woman is at risk of developing heart disease, this may not be an appropriate treatment option. For some women, estrogen therapy can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.