Palpitation, or the sensation of rapid or irregular heartbeats, is common in menopausal women; however, the precise underlying mechanisms are unknown. We aimed to investigate factors associated with palpitation in middle-aged women.
Medical records of 394 women aged 40 to 59 years (108 premenopausal, 85 perimenopausal, and 201 postmenopausal) were analyzed cross-sectionally. Palpitation severity was estimated based on responses to the Menopausal Symptom Scale. Effects of background characteristics, including age, menopausal status, body composition, cardiovascular parameters, basal metabolism, physical fitness, lifestyle factors, vasomotor, and psychological symptoms on palpitation were assessed using multivariate logistic regression analysis. The association between autonomic nervous system activity and palpitation was also analyzed in 198 participants.
Prevalence of palpitation by severity was as follows: none, 26.4%; mild, 32.7%; moderate, 29.4%; severe, 11.4%. In univariate analyses, the more severely the women were affected by palpitation, 1) the higher their systolic blood pressure, 2) the less exercise they performed, 3) the lower they scored in the sit-and-reach test, 4) the higher their vasomotor symptoms score in the Menopausal Health Related-Quality of Life questionnaire, and 5) the higher their Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that moderate to severe palpitation was independently associated with the vasomotor symptom score (adjusted odds ratio [95% confidence interval]: 1.18 [1.07-1.31]) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale anxiety subscale score (1.19 [1.12-1.27]).
Rapid or irregular heartbeats are highly prevalent in middle-aged women. It is not associated with age, menopausal status, heart rate, arrhythmia, autonomic nervous system activity, caffeine, or alcohol consumption, but with vasomotor symptoms and anxiety.