If you are over 40 and have symptoms of tachycardia, it may be hormonal.
The transition to menopause begins in the fourth decade of a woman’s life when estrogen and progesterone fluctuate unevenly giving rise to a myriad of manifestations.
One of the symptoms of hormonal imbalance after the age of 40 are palpitations. They are experienced as skipped beats, sustained palpitations, flatters or flip-flops. Palpitations occur due to the hormonal lack of control at this stage either because the production of estrogen level starts to drop or estrogen from external sources increases.
The most important change during perimenopause is the decrease in estrogen which causes the lining of the blood vessel to be more rigid and implicitly increases the blood pressure. The heart works harder and the palpitations appear.
During perimenopause, estrogen levels usually drop until they almost completely disappear (menopause) but you can still pile up extra estrogen from your toxic environment. When your load of estrogen is too high due to exposure to external sources of foreign estrogen like BPA from plastics, it may lead to arrhythmia.
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How does low estrogen cause heart palpitations?
There is a direct association between palpitations and low estrogen in perimenopause.
The rhythm of our heart is determined by thousands of variables (seriously, you would be surprised). Not only by blood pressure or catecholamines (activating hormones), but also by blood flow, baroreceptors, molecules from other systems, etc. A world of possibilities. Our body is an intrinsically connected system.
Low estrogen causes vasoconstriction
Estrogen has a specific action on the cardiovascular system until perimenopause arrives, and everything begins to fall. It is about protecting our heart, from the inside out.
The first and perhaps most critical cardio-protective factor of estrogen is vasodilation: it widens your arteries a little more making them more flexible so that they don’t have as much pressure. Your blood can freely flow and your heart pumps easily as it should be.
A balanced blood pressure keeps our system functioning at an ideal rate, however, when the estrogen levels start to drop, vasoconstriction occurs. The space inside the blood vessels becomes smaller and implicitly the amount of blood flowing through the vessels is reduced.
This is how high blood pressure is born in many older women. In order to overcome that vessel constriction, that pressure in your arteries, which is quite high, your heart must pump harder and stronger to send the same amount of blood throughout your body. The result is an increase in the intensity of heart contraction (palpitations).
Low production of estrogen increases sympathetic activity
Imagine the sympathetic system like the accelerator of a car. It takes care of the activation functions of our body: increase in heart rate, blood pressure, release of hormones, etc.
Estrogen can regulate this system so that it does not have such a strong impact on our body. It is a kind of natural brake, which only women possess, for the main activating functions.
By lowering the levels of estrogen, the sympathetic nervous system has a brake-free route to act as it wishes. Its main function takes place in the cardiovascular system, increasing the frequency and intensity of the heart’s contraction. As the heart beats harder, you begin to feel the palpitations. (1)
Although some experts link the possible occurrence of palpitations to other underlying mechanisms, the fact is that the most evidence points to what we mentioned above.
Simple lifestyle tips to reduce the sympathetic dominance in perimenopause are daily exercise, meditation and diaphragmatic breathing.
How to increase your estrogen level naturally?
Eating foods rich in phytoestrogens naturally stimulate estrogen production in the body. Phytoestrogens are hormones that are found in plants and behave similarly to the estrogens in our body but are much weaker. Among the foods that contain phytoestrogens are:
Seeds: sesame seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds
Nuts: walnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts
Soy: Misso, tofu, tempeh, edamame
Fruits: apples, carrots, cranberries, strawberries, peaches
Vegetables: sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, garlic
Beans: chickpeas, split peas, pinto
Herbs and spices: red clover, licorice, evening primrose, black cohosh, thyme, turmeric
After consuming food rich in phytoestrogens, these compounds are activated in the small intestine by enzymes and bacteria that prepare them for absorption in the body.
The level of phytoestrogens begins to decrease eight hours after reaching the blood, and are eliminated from the body within 24 hours of consumption.
Therefore, in order to ensure a constant level of phytoestrogens throughout the day, it is recommended that foods containing them be incorporated into as many meals as possible during the day.
Can too much estrogen cause palpitations?
A study showed that exposure to estrogen disruptive components found in plastics can cause arrhythmia.(5)
After the age of 40 we can expect hormonal disturbances because the production of sex hormones begins to decrease.
Sometimes what creates unpleasant palpitations and other characteristic complaints is the rise of estrogen not the decrease of it.
Why is there too much estrogen if our ovaries production is overall decreasing in perimenopause?
Estrogen is mostly produced by the ovaries but after these cease to function we still have a small estrogen production by our adrenal glands. Apart from these, there can be at least three ways in which our body can end up with more unwanted estrogen despite the decline in natural production.
- Estrogen is produced and stored in our fat cells. The more extra pounds we put on, the more estrogen we will accumulate in the body.
- Another way to dangerously increase your estrogen level is going through lifestyle choices that expose you to xenoestrogens. These are endocrine disruptive chemicals that once they find their way into your body, they mimic estrogen responses and perturb the natural functions of your body.
You can find them all around your daily activities, from your makeup and your plastic coffee cup to pesticides and chemicals.(6)
- Your gut health has a strong influence on your hormones. The health of your gut microbiome influences the way estrogen is adjusted in your body. Less circulated estrogen due to dysbiosis leads to various health issues like obesity.(7)
How to stop hormonal palpitations due to estrogen dominance?
I have heard many people saying you must eliminate the sources of xenoestrogens but it is impossible. We live in a chemical soup. They are everywhere, in our air, water, food, and soil. You will find them in your cosmetics, cleaning products, detergents, furniture, drugs, paints, adhesives, non stick cooking pans, air fresheners, cash register receipts, grains, vegetables, meat, dairy, cans and so on.
- Reduce foreign hormones access to your body
However, through the choices you make daily you can reduce the impact of these endocrine disruptors on your body.
- Find free toxins alternatives to the products you buy frequently.
- Swap all these items to more healthy choices.
- Buy organic as much as you can.
- Instead of using canned beans, get organic dried beans and cook them at home.
- Stay away from food that comes in all sorts of packaging and make a habit from preparing food at home.
- Avoid using plastic water bottles.You can even make a flavored or plain sparkling water at home with a soda maker.
- Buy a stainless steel bottle for your daily use and fill it with filtered water.
- Swap all plastic cups and containers with glass or ceramic.
- You can even make a flavored or plain sparkling water at home with a soda maker.
Eating a whole food plant based diet, I use coconut water, milk and cream instead of dairy products. I have recently discovered that I can prepare them at home and no longer need to buy them canned or in cartons.
From one fresh coconut you can drink the water and use the pulp to make coconut milk. Scoop out the meat and put it in a blender adding 750ml to 1l water. Strain the content obtained through an organic muslin cloth or milk bag and you have got homemade coconut milk. By adding the juice of a lemon and keeping it in the fridge for one hour you will get coconut cream as well.
If you drink sparkling or still water from plastic bottles be aware that you expose yourself daily to BPA. BPA or Bisfenol – A is a chemical compound found in plastics that when leached into your water disrupts the production of estrogen in the ovaries.(8,9)
Help your liver to detox
You cannot balance your hormones if you don’t take care of your liver. The excess of estrogen is detoxified in the liver.
If your liver doesn’t work properly because it is overloaded with too many toxins than it can handle then the excess of estrogen cannot be eliminated from your body. Unable to detoxify by the liver, those toxins are sent back into the circulation. You will end up with more estrogen into your system because the liver is unable to process it.
My favourite way of liver detox is a daily castor oil pack.(10)
Buy a piece of wool flannel big enough if folded in two to cover the upper right side of your abdomen where the liver lies. Saturate the flannel with organic castor oil and apply the cloth on that area. Cover the flannel with a towel and place a heated pad on top of it. Rest for 30 to 60 minutes.
Some sources recommend to wrap in plastic but as I said earlier we want to stay away from plastics as much as we can. You don’t want to put that plastic foil onto your body and apply a heated pad on top which increases the release of chemicals from the foil.
Then support your liver with foods and herbs that facilitate detoxification like cruciferous vegetables, beets, collard greens, ginger, lemon, apple cider vinegar, avocado, dandelion tea, dill and so on.