If you've ever experienced the sensation of your heart racing or fluttering in your chest, you know just how unsettling it can be. These palpitations can make you feel like your heart is doing somersaults inside your chest, leaving you anxious and worried about your health. While there can be various causes of palpitations, one often overlooked factor is the intricate relationship between your hormones and your heart's rhythm.
If you have concerns about heart palpitations 一 there are other potential causes of heart palpitations besides hormones 一 Dr. Henock Saint-Jacques and our expert team here at Harlem Cardiology encourage you to visit our East Harlem, New York City, office.
In the meantime, continue reading to learn more about hormones and heart palpitations.
Understanding your hormonal fluctuations
Hormones are chemical messengers inside of your body, and they have a big role: They regulate a multitude of body processes, including your metabolism, your temperature, and even your heartbeat.
Both men and women have hormones, but women tend to experience more pronounced hormonal fluctuations due to their menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. However, hormonal changes, including a surge in noradrenaline, can affect anyone, regardless of gender.
The effect of estrogen on your heart
One of the primary hormones involved in the heart-palpitation connection is estrogen. Women experience a surge in estrogen levels during their menstrual cycle, and this hormonal shift can sometimes lead to palpitations. The exact mechanisms are not completely understood, but estrogen is thought to have a direct effect on the electrical signaling in the heart, potentially causing irregular heartbeats.
Another study indicates that estrogen can interact with hereditary changes that affect your heart’s rhythm.
Pregnancy and hormonal surges
During pregnancy, hormonal changes are more dramatic than at any other time in your life. The increase in hormones can affect your heart. Many pregnant women report experiencing palpitations, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. These palpitations are usually harmless but should still be monitored by a health care professional. Stress, and the hormone cortisol, can also impact your heart during pregnancy.
Pregnancy can contribute to heart palpitations in another way. During pregnancy, your blood volume increases significantly. To keep up with the increase in blood volume, your heart works harder to pump it throughout your body. All of this extra work can lead to heart palpitations.
Menopause and heart palpitations
Menopause, the natural aging process that marks the end of your fertility, is notorious for causing hormonal fluctuations. As estrogen levels drop, this can lead to palpitations. Women going through menopause may experience irregular heartbeats, hot flashes, and night sweats as part of a cluster of symptoms known as menopausal symptoms.
Other hormonal influences
Apart from estrogen, other hormones like thyroid hormones can also influence your heart's rhythm. Thyroid hormones can either increase (hyperthyroidism) or decrease (hypothyroidism) your heart rate and contractility. This can potentially lead to irregular heart rhythms. It's essential to have your thyroid function checked if you suspect it might be contributing to your palpitations.
Managing hormonal palpitations
If you're experiencing palpitations due to hormonal changes, there are several steps you can take to manage them:
Dehydration can exacerbate palpitations, so be sure to drink plenty of water. Keep a refillable water bottle handy, and aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses per day.
High stress levels can trigger palpitations. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
Limit caffeine and alcohol
These substances can worsen palpitations. Reduce your intake to help alleviate symptoms.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Eating a balanced diet (especially getting enough protein at each meal) and getting regular exercise can help stabilize your hormones and improve overall heart health.
Don’t brush off heart palpitations
If your palpitations are severe, frequent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, seek medical advice. Never brush off heart palpitations, even if you think it’s connected to hormonal issues. Dr. Saint-Jacques can perform tests to rule out any underlying heart conditions.
The bottom line
The link between hormones and palpitations is a complex and often overlooked aspect of heart health. Hormonal changes, such as those experienced during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause, can influence your heart's rhythm.
To learn more about heart palpitations, call us at 646-381-2181 to schedule your appointment. You can also use our online booking tool.