Oprah Winfrey is opening up about a scary cardiac symptom she experienced during the start of menopause.
In a recent conversation with Maria Shriver and Drew Barrymore for Oprah Daily, the 69-year-old media mogul got real about her stressful experience with menopause in her late 40s. Although she’s never “had a hot flash in my life,” Winfrey recalled starting menopause at 48 with “heart palpitations.” Naturally, the symptom freaked her out — heart conditions can be deadly, after all — so she sought answers from medical professionals.
“I went from doctor to doctor, literally five different doctors,” she shared. “At one point, a female doctor had given me, first of all, an angiogram, and put me on heart medication and never once mentioned that this could be menopause or perimenopause.”
As Allure reported, research shows that this heart issue is common during perimenopause, the transitional phase before someone enters menopause and stops getting their period entirely. In fact, up to 41 percent of people experiencing perimenopause have this symptom, according to a 2021 report published in the journal Women’s Midlife Health.
Which begs the question… why aren’t more people talking about it?!
Winfrey finally uncovered the cause of her cardiac symptoms by chance — and with no help from medical professionals. “I just happened to be in the office… and opened a book and saw, ‘heart palpitations symptoms of menopause,’” she said.
If Winfrey — one of the most famous journalists in the world — couldn’t get an accurate diagnosis for her perimenopause-related heart issues, just imagine how many other people are in the same boat.
Perimenopause and menopause are natural biological processes for people with uteruses. According to Mayo Clinic, the latter technically begins 12 months after a person’s final menstrual period. The average age of onset for U.S. adults is 51, although menopause can happen in your 40s, too.
Common perimenopause symptoms include night sweats, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood changes, and, yes, heart palpitations.
Sadly, menopause and perimenopause are still shrouded in mystery and stigma. (Thanks, medical misogyny.) But candid conversations from celebrities like Winfrey, Barrymore, and Shriver can go a long way in normalizing discussions about this natural phase of life.
“For generations, millions and millions of women have suffered the symptoms of menopause and suffered in silence,” Winfrey noted. “It’s been shrouded in stigma and shrouded in shame. Women have told me they feel invisible as if their very selves are disappearing. But we are flipping that script today.”
Before you go, check out these beauty products we love for menopause:
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