Palpitations and Co-Occurring Menopausal Symptoms in Women Prior to Breast Cancer Surgery

Ying Sheng

Janet S. Carpenter

Steven M. Paul

Bruce A. Cooper

Yvette P. Conley

Kord M. Kober

Jon D. Levine

Christine Miaskowski

breast cancer, palpitations, menopausal symptoms, breast-conserving surgery, mastectomy
ONF 2023, 50(2), 215-228. DOI: 10.1188/23.ONF.215-228

Objectives: To determine the occurrence rate of palpitations in women prior to breast cancer surgery and evaluate for differences in demographic and clinical characteristics and menopausal symptoms in patients with and without palpitations.

Sample & Setting: Presurgery data on palpitations and menopausal symptoms from 398 patients who underwent breast cancer surgery were analyzed.

Methods & Variables: The Menopausal Symptoms Scale was used to evaluate the occurrence, severity, and distress of 46 symptoms, including palpitations. Parametric and nonparametric tests were used to evaluate for differences between patients with and without palpitations.

Results: Women with palpitations had lower annual income, lower functional status, higher comorbidity burden, and higher rates of back pain than women without palpitations. Women with palpitations had twice the number of menopausal symptoms and had higher occurrence rates for 39 of the 45 menopausal symptoms. They reported significantly higher severity scores for difficulty concentrating, dizziness, swollen hands/feet, and wake during the night, and higher distress scores for anxiety, hot flashes, swollen hands/feet, and wake during the night.

Implications for Nursing: Clinicians should perform routine assessments of palpitations and make appropriate referrals to a cardiologist.

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