Hot flashes and heart palpitations are two of the most ubiquitous symptoms women experience as they progress into the menopausal transition. Likewise, both can cause initial shooting sensations in the chest that some women would refer to as a heart flash. Continue reading to learn more about heart flashes for improved clarification of what's happening in your body.
What is a Heart Flash?
It is common for women to describe an unexpected discomfort in their chest as a heart flash. However, there is no known medical condition named as such. A heart flash could happen as a result of hot flashes or heart palpitations, both common throughout the menopausal transition.
During a hot flash, specifically, women may feel sudden warmth or heat that shoots across their chests, feeling as if it envelops their whole being soon thereafter. Not knowing this was initiated by the brain, they may mistake the sensation for what they could describe as a heart flash.
Also, in the event of heart palpitations, sudden shortness of breath and a racing heart for unknown reasons could also cause a woman to believe she is experiencing what could be explained as a heart flash.
Discover more about these two symptoms that trigger the sensation of a heart flash below.
Heart Flashes due to Hot Flashes
Hot flashes occur when your body temperature increases too much, prompting your brain to send signals that temporarily cause blood vessels in the skin to widen. This increased blood flow causes more heat to be released for your body to cool off, subsequently resulting in a hot flash.
Hot flashes are characterized by sudden waves of heat that normally start in the chest, face, and back of the neck, spreading throughout the whole body. They cause changes in heart rate as well as increased perspiration, blotchy skin, shortness of breath, and more. Women may feel heart flash sensations at this time if originating in the chest.
Heart Flashes due to Heart Palpitations
On the other hand, women could feel heart flash sensations due to heart palpitations. Heart palpitations are feelings that your heart is quickly beating, pounding, fluttering, or skipping beats.
Similar to hot flashes, heart palpitations can also be felt in the chest, throat, and neck regions when a woman is active or at rest. As a result of heart palpitations, you may exhibit symptoms of increased perspiration and anxiety, shortness of breath, and more.
Should I be Worried?
In the cases of hot flashes, heart palpitations, and perceived heart flashes, there is probably no need for concern as they are typical symptoms of hormonal imbalance during stages of reproductive significance, such as menopause.
However, women should be aware that throughout perimenopause and into postmenopause, heart problems could develop due to waning levels of the cardioprotective hormone estrogen. If there is any suspicion of a more serious health condition, the matter should be brought to the attention of a doctor immediately before further progression.
Overall, sensations of having heart flashes are generally not something to fret over. Whether evoked by the occurrence of a hot flash or heart palpitations that begin in the chest, they almost always happen alongside another symptom of hormonal imbalance. Also, since symptoms are often interlinked, it is difficult for women to deduce the exact trigger of the episode. However, if accompanied by other symptoms of hormonal imbalance, begin management and treatment efforts in a timely manner.
- Lorga, A. et al. (2017). The protective role of estrogen and estrogen receptors in cardiovascular disease and the controversial use of estrogen therapy. Biology of Sex Differences, 8, 33. doi: 10.1186/s13293-017-0152-8
- Mayo Clinic. (2018). Heart palpitations: Symptoms & causes. retrieved August 21, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-palpitations/symptoms-causes/syc-20373196
- PubMed Health. (n.d.). Hot Flashes. Retrieved August 21, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0023145/