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Are Heart Palpitations a Symptom of Menopause?

Are Heart Palpitations a Symptom of Menopause?

Answer:

Heart palpitations can be a symptom of menopause.

More Info: With very little scientific research available, heart palpitations as a symptom of menopause are not fully understood, but some women do report them. They seem to be a symptom of a hot flash rather than a singular symptom of menopause with the heart rate increasing an average of eight to sixteen beats during a hot flash. [1]

What Is a Hot Flash?

One of the most reported symptoms of menopause, the hot flash, can be accompanied by heart palpitations, feelings of anxiety or dread, and tension.  Hot flashes, also called vasomotor symptoms, occur due to the drop in estrogen that occurs during menopause.  This drop affects the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates body temperature.  The hypothalamus falsely reads the diminished estrogen level as the body overheating and releases epinephrine and similar nervous system chemicals that cause the heart to pump faster, and the sweat glands to activate to cool the body down. [2]

 

 

 

What Are the Symptoms of a Menopausal Hot Flash?

The symptoms of a menopausal hot flash are a warm feeling that spreads throughout the body, sweating, and a general feeling of discomfort. Each woman is different, so exactly how this discomfort manifests is unique to each individual. Some woman experience profuse sweating. When this occurs at night, it is referred to as night sweats. Hot flashes are experienced by 40 percent of women in their forties and can last for a few years in some women. Statistics find 80 percent of woman complete hot flashes within five years. In about 10 percent of woman, hot flashes can last as long as 10 years. [3]

How to Treat Menopausal Hot Flashes

Menopausal hot flashes are usually treated through hormonal replacement therapy, known as HRT. HRT is usually estrogen or a combination of estrogen and progesterone. Doses are administered either orally by mouth or by transdermal delivery through the use of a patch placed on the body. Recent studies have found woman who receive oral treatments of both estrogen and progesterone had an increased risk for breast cancer, heart attack, and stroke. Later studies showed those receiving only estrogen had an increased risk of only stroke. For this reason, it is important any form of therapy is decided carefully between a patient and their doctor. [4]

 

REFERENCES:

[1] Harvard Health Publications
Dealing with the Symptoms of Menopause
http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Dealing_with_the_symptoms_of_menopause.htm

[2]Breastcancer.org
All about Hot Flashes
http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/menopausal/facing/hot_flashes.jsp

[3]Medicinenet.com
Alternative Treatments for Hot Flashes of Menopause
www.medicinenet.com/alternative_treatments_for_hot_flashes/article.htm

[4]Mayo Clinic
Hormone Therapy Is It Right for You?
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hormone-therapy/WO00046

Reference: US National Library of Medicine
Heart Palpitations
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003081.htm

Reference: WebMD
Symptoms of Menopause
http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/menopause-symptoms-types

Glossary of Terms

Estrogen: any of various natural steroids (as estradiol) that are formed from androgen precursors, that are secreted chiefly by the ovaries, placenta, adipose tissue, and testes, and that stimulate the development of female secondary sex characteristics and promote the growth and maintenance of the female reproductive system; also : any of various synthetic or semisynthetic steroids (as ethinyl estradiol) that mimic the physiological effect of natural estrogens.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Transdermal: relating to or denoting the application of a medicine or drug through the skin, typically by using an adhesive patch, so that it is absorbed slowly into the body.
Oxford Dictionary

Vasomotor Symptoms: pertaining to the nerves and muscles that control the diameter of the blood vessels. Circularly arranged smooth muscle fibers of arteries and arterioles can contract, causing vasoconstriction, or they can relax, causing vasodilation. Also called vasculomotor.
TheFreeDictionary.com

Experts Opinion

“There is considerable variation in time of onset, duration, frequency, and the nature of hot flashes, whether you’ve had breast cancer or not. An episode can last a few seconds or a few minutes, occasionally even an hour, but it can take another half hour for you to feel yourself again. The most common time of onset is between six and eight in the morning, and between six to ten at night.”

All about Hot Flashes  Breastcancer.org

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