Irregular Heartbeat
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Irregular Heartbeat

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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.

Cardiovascular Terminology

Pulse. Rhythmic contraction and expansion of the arteries with each heartbeat.

Tachycardia. Fast or irregular heartbeat; over 100 beats per minute.

Bradycardia. Unusually slow heart rate.

Extrasystole. Occasional extra heartbeat.

Arrhythmia. Abnormal heart rhythm (not always present with irregular heartbeat).

Enhanced cardiac awareness. Heart feels like it is pounding, but pulse is normal.

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. Please read on to learn more about irregular heartbeat in menopause.

About Irregular Heartbeat

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 function

Anatomy of the heart

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.

Normal heartbeat

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 check your pulse, count the number of beats per minute

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.

Please read on to learn more about the symptoms of irregular heartbeat.

Occasional Irregular Heartbeat during Menopause

Suffering an occasional irregular heartbeat is one of the lesser known symptoms of menopause. However, many women know very little about this. This article describes what irregular heartbeats are, what causes then, what they feel like, and what women suffering from them can do about it.

Things to avoid if you Have an Irregular Heartbeat

An irregular heartbeat is a common condition that is usually experienced during at least one stage of everyone's life. However, there are things you can avoid in order to reduce the likelihood of this occurring. This article describes five things you should avoid, such as caffeine, appetite suppressants, stress, alcohol, and smoking.

Symptoms of Irregular Heartbeat

Irregular heartbeat is often felt at the neck, throat and chest

Irregular heartbeat can occur at any time of day or night. Episodes may last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. The boxes below show the common symptoms of irregular heartbeat.

Once the symptoms of irregular heartbeat have been covered, the next step is learning about the hormonal and other causes of irregular heartbeat.

Symptoms of irregular heartbeat


Feeling the heart has skipped a beat

Pounding in the chest, throat, or neck

Heartbeat awareness

Increased pulse rate

Rapid heartbeat

Symptoms may also be accompanied by

Dizziness or lightheadedness

Shortness of breath

Chest discomfort


Feelings of panic or anxiety

Weakness or fatigue

How Does Chocolate Benefit Women with Heart Disease?

Women who choose to eat dark chocolate can help improve the health of their hearts. Chocolate contains flavanols that have antioxidant properties that help clean the blood vessels and circulation of the blood to the heart and brain. Dark chocolate is better, as milk chocolate loses its health benefits during extra processing.

Causes of Irregular Heartbeat

Did You Know?

Premenopausal women have a lower incidence of irregular heartbeat compared to same-aged men and peri and postmenopausal women.

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.

Hormonal causes

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.

Estrogen and the Cardiovascular System

Estrogen has a proven effect on the:

Metabolism and disposition of cholesterol

Plasma levels of high and low density lipoproteins (H/LDL).

Smooth muscle cell proliferation in arterial wall

Stimulates widening and inhibits constriction of coronary arteries

Modulates autonomic nervous system, which works to regulate heartbeat

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, some of the more common are described below.

Medical Causes of Irregular Heartbeat

Overactive thyroid

Fever, anemia


Low levels of oxygen in the blood

Certain medications

Heart arrhythmia

Heart disease

Other Causes




Diet Pills

Drug abuse



Though irregular heartbeat is often a normal part of the menopausal transition, there are cases where this symptom might indicate a more serious health condition.

Please read on to learn about when to contact a doctor about irregular heartbeat.

4 Common Causes of Irregular Heartbeats

An irregular heartbeat is a common symptom of menopause due to imbalanced levels of estrogen. This article describes other common causes of it, for instance lifestyle choices such as drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, or smoking. Certain medical conditions and emotional factors, like stress, can also play a part in causing an irregular heartbeat.

Am I More Vulnerable to Health Risks Post menopause?

Women over 50 are at a greater risk of different illnesses and health complications, such as osteoporosis, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. To stay healthy after menopause, women should have regular checkups with their doctors to control their weight, and keep healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise and a healthy diet full of fiber, leafy greens and calcium; and low on Trans fats and cholesterol.

When to Call a Doctor

A pulse over 100 beats per minute and chest pain requires medical attention

Cardiovascular Tests For Irregular Heartbeat


Ambulatory monitor

Stress test


Electrophysiology test

Head upright tilt test

Irregular heartbeat may be cause for concern if experienced in addition to other symptoms. Women who experience irregular heartbeat accompanied by a loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, chest pain, unexplained sweating, or dizziness should seek immediate medical attention. A pulse over 100 beats per minute in the absence of anxiety, fever, or exercise should be discussed with a healthcare professional.

Experts also recommend that a doctor should be consulted in the following cases:

New or different heart palpitations are experienced

If extra heart beats, over six per minute or coming in clusters of three or more, are felt

Risk factors of heart disease are present (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol)

For women who experience irregular heartbeat for the first time, it is a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional to rule out any serious conditions. Please read on to learn more about irregular heartbeat treatment options.

Irregular Heartbeat Treatment

Did You Know?

Experts recommend keeping a record of irregular heartbeat frequency, duration, intensity, and time of onset. It is also wise to record your pulse during these episodes and how you are feeling at the time.

The type of treatment necessary to address irregular heartbeat will often depend on this underlying cause of this cardiovascular symptom. For menopausal women who are experiencing irregular heartbeat caused by changes in estrogen production, the best irregular heartbeat treatment is often a combination of lifestyle changes and alternative medicines.

Lifestyle changes can help to reduce the incidence of irregular heartbeat during menopause. Reducing intake of caffeine can significantly reduce heart palpitations. Limiting consumption of stimulants, cigarettes, and alcohol can also treat irregular heartbeat. Practicing yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises, or other relaxation techniques can also reduce or prevent irregular heartbeat during menopause.

Breathing and relaxation exercises are good against irregular heartbeat

While these lifestyle changes can greatly reduce the incidence and intensity of irregular heartbeat, they are unable to get at the root cause of hormonal imbalance. Additionally, it can be difficult for the busy woman to integrate many major lifestyle changes into her daily routine. Fortunately, there are natural, non-invasive ways to successfully treat irregular heartbeat during menopause. Alternative medicines are a safe, effective, and non-invasive method of treating irregular heartbeat and other symptoms of menopause. These are able to get at the root cause of hormonal imbalance without the risks posed by more invasive medical alternatives.

For women who do not find relief from a combination of lifestyle and natural treatments, medical options are available.

Click on the following link to learn specific treatments for irregular heartbeat, which begin with lifestyle changes, move onto alternative medicines, and finally, if those options don't seem to help, medications and surgery. The most effective treatments typically combine lifestyle changes and alternative medicines.

Top 6 Natural Ways to Cure Irregular Heartbeats

Many people are uncertain of what to do when suffering an irregular heartbeat. This article describes the six top natural ways in which you can return your irregular heartbeat back to normal, including watching your diet, getting enough sleep, relaxing, staying hydrated, splashing your face with cold water, and breathing deeply.

6 Tips to Relieve a Rapid, Irregular Heartbeat

Suffering from a rapid, irregular heartbeat is an unsettling experience, but one that is often reported during menopause. This article describes six ways you can bring your heartbeat under control, including splashing yourself with cold water, going for a massage, eating and drinking right, and taking deep, slow breaths.

  • Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007
Updated on January 15th, 2014
How to Control an Irregular Heartbeat Not just a sign of love, an irregular heartbeat can also be a symptom of menopause. Although the experience might seem worrying there are ways of controlling the condition. For more information and advice, click here to check out the how to control and irregular heartbeat.
Updated on January 29th, 2013
Am I More Vulnerable to Health Risks Post menopause? After menopause, women over the age of 50 are at greater risk for a myriad of health issues. Being aware of health risks that can inflict post-menopausal women is essential to leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Find out how to prevent osteoporosis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Updated on April 8th, 2011
Stress and Heart Health during Menopause Because of the interactions between cortisol and estrogen, the menopause transition can expose women to a higher risk of contracting heart diseases. To find out more about the relationship between stress, the heart and menopause read our article on stress and heart health during menopause.