Palpitations are not a pleasant sensation, women experiencing them can actually feel their heart beating. For some, it is just the awareness of their heart at work, for others it feels like their heart is pounding, racing, or skipping a beat. Unfortunately, it's a common experience for many women in the menopausal transition.
Palpitations are not new to me but after a long break from them, I’m not happy to experience them again. I first experienced them around 2020 when I was having very heavy menstrual bleeds due to my fibroid and I was anemic. It was around this time I discovered the true value of electrolytes. If you haven’t yet tried my 7-day electrolyte challenge you need to! To do this you need to find a clean electrolyte product. By clean I mean no artificial colour, flavours, preservatives, or sugars. Take a dose daily for 7 days and then see how you feel afterward. If you can’t find a clean electrolyte try adding a pinch of the cleanest natural salt you can find to a glass of water. If the salty taste is off-putting to you I like adding grated ginger and a squeeze of fresh lemon to taste. If you experience health benefits such as reduced palpitation, more energy, better sleep, fewer headaches, and brain fog then don’t stop after the 7 days, keep going.
Back then correcting my iron levels and adding electrolytes resolved my problem with palpitations. But last week they came back. I noticed them when I was in bed at night while trying to get to sleep and a handful of times I woke up during the night with them. I noticed something very interesting and that is that my palpitations were worse when I lay on my left side and that they improved when I roll over. So I looked into sleeping position and found that it can make a difference for some women. The thought is that left-sided sleeping stimulates the vagal nerve, sending abnormal electrical signals to the heart. I am not 100% sure this is solid science but I can tell you from first-hand experience that changing my sleep position helps me and it may help you too.
Getting back to last week - A few unusual things happened to me, I was away, I had more stress than usual, I drank more coffee than usual, and I didn’t take my supplements or my electrolytes.
I know I’m not alone when it comes to experiencing palpitations. Research indicates that 42% of perimenopausal and 54% of post-menopausal women experience them. So I’m in good company.
For the vast majority of us, they are not serious. But I always recommend speaking to your doctor about them. Since I’ve been home, I’ve cleaned up my diet, reduced my coffee consumption, restarted my electrolytes, restarted paced respiration - a breathing exercise I personally find very effective for stress management and I’ve reduced the intensity of my palpitations by about half, but I’m still seeing my doctor tomorrow to rule out anything more sinister.
Let's start at the serious end. If with your palpitations you are also experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, chest tightening, or dizziness it's best to head to emergency. If not, then book an appointment with your regular GP. They can check your medications, as some medications can cause palpitations, and they can investigate for other conditions such as hyperthyroidism that can also produce palpitations. Plus rule out other cardiovascular issues such as arrhythmias. Once you are cleared of anything more serious it's time to look at your diet and lifestyle.
These factors increase the risk of palpitations:
If after addressing these factors your palpitations persist, it may be worth considering herbal medicines. Many of them are indicated with palpitations but probably the most specific herbs for menopausal palpitations is Motherwort. Latin name Leonurus cardiaca. Although this one isn’t a good option for me. Remember that all herbs, supplements, and medications come with cautions, contra-indications, and interactions. In my case, I have low blood pressure which is a caution with this herb. Pregnancy is the contra-indication and it interacts with blood thinning medication.
Motherwort is a hormonal tonic and a cardiovascular tonic. It may be a useful consideration for the woman experiencing hot flushes and palpitations, especially if you experience more of the racing heartbeat (tachycardia) style of palpitations. Other potential benefits include reduced anxiety, better sleep, and improved menstrual blood flow with fewer cramps for those among us who are still menstruating. As it's a bitter herb it has the potential to improve liver function and digestion overall.
Palpiations may be common but they are not normal. Once you have ruled out anything serious don’t learn to live with them instead learn how to improve them and live without them.
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