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February 2024

Stress After Menopause May Lead to Irregular Heartbeat

Have you gone through menopause? If so, then certain types of stress can increase your risk for a heart arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation.

This finding, published in a recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, shows the strong link in postmenopausal women between stressful events or situations and irregular heartbeats.

But that doesn’t mean stressed postmenopausal people are guaranteed to have an arrhythmia. There are steps you can take to protect your heart.

All about AFib

Atrial fibrillation, also called AFib, is the most common type of heart arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat. Experts predict that more than 12 million people will have AFib by 2030. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean you should take it lightly: AFib can lead to stroke, blood clots, heart failure, other heart problems, and even death.

Your risk of getting atrial fibrillation rises as you get older. Other risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • Smoking

  • Obesity

  • European ancestry

While some people may not feel any symptoms of AFib, others will experience a fluttering or thumping in the chest, and could also feel weak, faint, or short of breath.

If you suspect you may have AFib, talk with a healthcare provider. They can do tests to confirm a diagnosis. Treatment options include medicines, surgeries, and nonsurgical procedures.

Avoiding AFib

As this recent study points out, stress can also be a factor in developing AFib. In this case, researchers focused on a handful of specific stressful events or symptoms that were associated with AFib. These included:

  • Stressful life events

  • Depressive symptoms

  • Insomnia

  • Optimism (or the lack of it)

So, it may help to address those areas of your life, when possible. But you can also focus on lowering overall stress. To do this, make sure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise, and taking time to relax.



Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley BSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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