Heart Health: Can Hormonal Changes Cause Heart Palpitations?
Best known for making us hungry, moody, and even tearing up at TV adverts, our hormones play a central role in how we go about our daily lives. But were you aware these chemical messengers are also closely tied to heart health? It’s not uncommon for major hormonal events, like the menopause, to perturb the delicate balance of your cardiovascular system. And it doesn’t stop there, either. Issues with your thyroid hormone may also compromise your heart.
Naturally produced in a woman’s body, oestrogen is an integral part of the menstrual cycle. Besides supporting puberty and reproduction, this hormone also helps to control cholesterol levels and reduce fatty plaques clogging artery walls. For these reasons, oestrogen has earned a reputation for being cardioprotective. During menopause, a woman’s body steadily produces less and less oestrogen, which can increase the risk of developing heart disease.
Does your heart skip a beat?
Throughout the menopause, some women may also experience palpitations – that is, being more aware of the heart beating. Generally, palpitations aren’t a cause for concern or signal anything is wrong. But you may wish to see your GP for peace of mind.
Did you know?
If you’re taking the contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT), make sure you have regular check-ups with your GP.
Situated at the back of your throat, your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that releases hormones known to impact every organ in the body – particularly the cardiovascular system. Your thyroid hormone affects the speed and force of your heart, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. If it malfunctions, it can wreak havoc with heart health, and, for some, may even imitate heart disease.
Did you know?
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can lead to a slower heart rate, elevated cholesterol levels, and an increase in blood pressure.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can cause the heart to beat harder and faster and may trigger abnormal heart rhythms. It can also lead to high blood pressure, palpitations, and atrial fibrillation (a condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate).
Who’s at risk of thyroid problems?
Family history: if you have first-degree relatives (parents or siblings) with underactive or overactive thyroid, it’s more probable you will also develop complications
Gender: women are more prone to thyroid problems than their male counterparts
Age: rates of underactive thyroid increase with age, particularly over 60 years old
Race: white Caucasians are more likely to experience thyroid problems
If you suspect your thyroid hormone is out of whack, consult your GP for a full blood test.
Keri Filtness has worked in the Nutrition Industry for 19 years. She is regularly called upon for her professional comments on health and nutrition related news. Her opinions have been featured by BBC3, Prima, Vitality, The Mirror, Woman’s Own and Cycling Weekly, amongst others. She has also worked one to one with journalists, analysing their diets and health concerns and recommending changes and additions, where appropriate.