Hot flashes are the most common symptom of menopause, but they sometimes catch women unaware, which makes the sudden experiences of hot flashes distressing. Fortunately, there is plenty of information on how best to deal with hot flashes, and any changes in heart rate that usually go along with them.
What's the Relationship between Hot Flashes and Heart Rate?
Nearly 75% of women experience hot flashes during menopause.
Hot flashes and an accelerated heart rate are a result of intense heat in the upper part of the body. Women who are suffering from hot flashes will start to break into a sweat and experience a flushing of the skin in the face, neck, and chest.
Since hot flashes increase the body's temperature, the effects can be similar to that of a minor fever - in which an increased heart rate is a natural occurrence. During a hot flash, heart rates can increase between eight and 16 beats per minute. Hot flashes and increased heart rate last in average around four minutes, although they can vary in length and severity.
The intensity of hot flashes usually falls into one of the following three categories:
- Mild hot flashes. These result in a minimal change in body temperature that is so mild it may go unnoticed.
- Moderate hot flashes. These are often combined with sweating and an accelerated heart rate.
- Severe hot flashes. These flashes result in profuse sweating and heart palpitations, they can be overwhelming to the point that immediate relief is required.
What Causes Hot Flashes and Changes in Heart Rate?
Some women experience heart rates of up to 200 beats a minute during their hot flashes.
Hot flashes and heart rate acceleration are the result of several factors. The primary cause is believed to be linked to the lowered production of estrogen during menopause. This causes the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates the body's temperature, to falsely believe that body temperature has increased. The body then tries to cool itself down by increasing the heart rate and dilating the blood vessels to release heat. A woman then feels hot and can become sweaty, cold, and even nauseous.
Treatments Hot Flashes and Changes in Heart Rate
Hot flashes and heart rate acceleration are often associated with decreased estrogen levels in a woman's body during menopause. It is essential to maintain stable hormonal levels during menopause or find ways to adjust to the lower levels of hormones in your body.
Keeping a healthy diet and exercise regularly can help reduce hot flashes. In addition, some alternative medicines and herbal remedies can regulate hormonal imbalances. A balance between a healthy lifestyle and natural remedies is regarded as the most effective way to treat hot flashes and heart rate acceleration.
- Sikon, A. & Thacker, H. (2004). Treatment for Menopausal Hot Flashes. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 71(7).
- "Hot flashes ... in January". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2004: 170 (1).
- Miller, Heather and Rose Maria Li, M.D. "Measuring Hot Flashes: Summary of a National Institutes of Health Workshop". Conference report. Mayo Clinic. June 2004: 79.