5 ways to stop heart palpitations during menopause

Eileen Durward
Ask Eileen

01 October 2018

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about palpitations and five ways that you can try and avoid them. Now, palpitations is a horrible one. I didn't get them very often, but the first time I experienced one, I honestly thought that I was having a serious heart attack.

It's very frightening, and it feels as if your heart is just about to burst right out of your chest. And it can be one of these situations that can put you in a total panic. And what we find is an awful lot of women do experience this at some point during the menopause. They either end up in A&E, they go to their doctor, they get a whole run of tests done, and then the tests come back and you're told, "There's absolutely nothing wrong with your heart."

Which is good news on the one hand, but if you keep getting the palpitations, then you start to get really anxious, "A, am I going to get one today and B, was the doctor wrong? Is there something seriously wrong with me?" So I'm going to look into them, just a little bit today and to give you some tips on how to try and avoid them, or how to deal with them if you get them.

What do heart palpitations feel like?

Now, when I am talking about palpitations, I am talking about the fact that you feel as if your heart is fluttering.

You could miss a beat sometimes, you think, "Oh, my heart's actually stopped beating." Or you might find that suddenly, your heart is really, really racing for no apparent reason, and you can be sitting quite happy, watching TV, or even going to bed, and suddenly, you find that your heart's really going overboard here. The one thing I must say here is, which is really important, if you are getting chest pain, if you feel that your heart is really pounding, then we're not talking about palpitations, and in that case, please go to your doctor or A&E as soon as you can.

What causes heart palpitations during menopause?

As always, the poor menopause gets blamed for everything, and sometimes, the symptoms you get are really not connected to the menopause at all. So how do palpitations arise during the menopause?

Hormonal changes

First one is obviously hormonal. We do know that falling oestrogen can affect the electrical system of your heart.

And what happens there is that because the system gets jammed a little bit, you may find that your heart starts to race a little bit, or sometimes, two heartbeats can come really close together, and it makes you feel as if you've then missed a heartbeat. So very often, that's your oestrogen affecting the way in which your heart works itself.

Night sweats & dehydration

We've got night sweats. This can be a big one, especially if you wake up first thing in the morning, and even before you half-opened your eyes, your heart starts to do this fluttering or fastness.

And this very often is due to hydration. If you're getting night sweats or even if you're getting hot flushes in the evening, you're going to bed, and you're going through the night in a state of dehydration. And we know that dehydration is a really big trigger for palpitations.

Sodium and potassium imbalance

It can also be due to an imbalance between your sodium and potassium. The body has a very fine balance between the two, and sometimes if they are out of balance, that in itself can affect your heartbeat, so it's important to sort of bear this one in mind.

Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety generally, again, if we're stressed during the day, if we're anxious all the time, all that's happening here is that your nervous system is getting overexcited, it's shooting out adrenaline, and the adrenaline is starting to pump the heart. This is your classic fight-or-flight situation, and unfortunately, in the menopause, we end up in this situation on a regular basis, so that's a big contributory factor for the palpitations.

It can also just be general day-to-day life. You know, we're always stressed, if we're not sleeping, if we're fatigued, all these things can have an effect on our nervous system which in turn can trigger the palpitations.

How to stop heart palpitations

So how do you deal with these?

1. Get your flushes & sweats under control

If you're getting hot flushes, if you're getting the night sweats, and some women find that the palpitations are associated to the hot flush or the night sweats, so you'll get one and then the other. If you're getting these, then sage can be really helpful for a general treatment for hot flushes and night sweats, and this does tend to work quite quickly as well.

2. Drink plenty of water

We can look at water. Remember, dehydration will cause all sorts of things, so get plenty of water into your system on a regular basis. And some women find that if they feel the palpitations coming on, if they get into that situation where they go, "Oh, here we go," that drinking some water at the very start of it can help to reduce its impact on you as well.

3. Avoid stimulants

Avoid things that are going to rev up the nervous system, and that is mainly caffeine. I remember, as I explained before, the first time I experienced this, I was driving, and I really thought that something terrible was happening to me, and I was sitting in the car thinking, "I'm having a heart attack."

And then I'm thinking, "No, I can't be having a heart attack. I'm too young for a heart attack." When I sat and thought about it, I realised that I had been offered a very strong cup of coffee about two hours earlier. It was in the afternoon, and I don't drink coffee in the afternoon. I know it just doesn't sit well with me at all.

And I realised that for me, that really big hit of caffeine two hours down the line was enough to start off a series of palpitations. So really watch your coffee and your tea and your fizzy drinks as well.

High-salt and sugar foods can do it too, so just be aware of those. This is one of these times where if you get the palpitations at the same time every day, do your diary, with your food and your drinks, and you may find that there's a common link between them all, which will then help you to sort and deal with these much more easily.

4. Boost your nutrients

Boost your nutrition as well. We know that low magnesium, as well as an imbalance of levels of sodium potassium, can cause these heart palpitations. So make sure you're having a really good diet. Eat little and often, so that you're not having big dips with your blood sugars as well.

Look at things like magnesium, calcium, and potassium. We have a lovely remedy called Balance Mineral Drink that has all these things in it, and it's a really lovely one to have. I know, my colleague and I, we often have a little drink of it in the afternoon. It's good for that midafternoon energy slump as well as helping to calm any palpitations down as well.

5. Don’t panic

Don't panic when you get these, because that will make them worse. If you start to panic, your adrenaline will kick in even more and make it worse. And I know it's difficult, I've been there, and you get into the panic mode before you even have a chance to breathe. But if you can, start to practice your deep breathing exercises, and when the palpitations start to come on, then just breathe through them, and very often, that can help to calm everything down as well.

So, one of the not very nice symptoms of the menopause, but this one can be easily sorted. But just remember, if you are worried at all, then please get this checked out by your doctor first. If you continue to worry about it, that is going to stress your nervous system, and that will make the palpitations worse.

So get a checkup to put your mind at rest, and then you can try these tips and see how you get on. If any of you out there have had other great tips to help with the palpitations, please share them with us. And I'll look forward to seeing you next week for another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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