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Heart Palpitations In Women: Is It 'Just Anxiety,' Or Something More?

Unfortunately, heart palpitations are extremely common. They differ from one person to the next and can vary with a woman's age and hormone levels.

Age: Palpitations caused by atrial fibrillation, a potentially dangerous, irregular heartbeat that compromises the heart's ability to pump blood throughout the body, are more prevalent in both men and women over age 65.

Menstrual cycle: Palpitations that feel like skips or a running heartbeat often come with a woman's menstrual cycle. Looping arrhythmia, a type of fast heart rhythm that results when a "short circuit" occurs in the electrical system of the heart, may also vary with the cycle.

Pregnancy: Pregnancy can elicit non-dangerous yet bothersome arrhythmias, but in some young women may also increase the incidence of dangerous but rare arrhythmias, such as those precipitated by Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. If you have had palpitations in the past and are planning to become pregnant, it's important to address them beforehand, as they are more difficult to manage during pregnancy.

Menopause: Menopause is the most common time to have non-dangerous palpitations.

In addition, some medications, such as certain antibiotics and asthma drugs, can trigger heart palpitations. This can be particularly problematic for women who are predisposed to a type of rare but deadly heart rhythm disorder called long QT syndrome.

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