Objective: Our objectives were to identify trajectories of palpitations over the menopause transition, characterize them, and examine associations with subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Methods: We analyzed the following data from the multisite, multiethnic SWAN (Study of Women Across the Nation): reported palpitations occurrence over time; baseline sociodemographic, reproductive, medication, and health-related factors; and follow-up visit subclinical CVD (carotid atherosclerosis, vascular stiffness). Trajectories of palpitations (n = 3,276), their characteristics, and their associations with subclinical CVD (n = 1,559) were identified using group-based trajectory modeling and linear and logistic regression models.
Results: Three trajectories emerged: high probability of palpitations in perimenopause to early postmenopause diminishing in late postmenopause (15.9% of women), moderate probability of palpitations in perimenopause to early postmenopause diminishing in late postmenopause (34.3%), and sustained low probability of palpitations (49.8%). In the fully adjusted multivariable model, the high probability group had a more adverse reproductive and health-related profile at baseline (higher gravidity, early perimenopause, vasomotor symptoms, poorer overall health, higher depressive symptoms, higher perceived stress, greater sleep problems, higher blood pressure). In fully adjusted multivariable models, palpitation trajectories were not related to atherosclerosis or arterial stiffness.
Conclusions: Distinct patterns of palpitations emerged, with a substantial portion of women having palpitations during the perimenopause and early postmenopause. Palpitations were not associated with subclinical CVD. Findings can help identify women at risk of palpitations during the menopause transition who may need symptom relief.