Chest pain after exercise, even though you felt fine during the workout, is cause for concern because it may be a heart problem.
“Chest pain after exercise is a worrisome symptom and needs to be evaluated appropriately,” says Lance S. Burns, MD, emergency medicine specialist, of Legacy ER & Urgent Care, Frisco East location.
“Acute coronary syndrome or ‘angina’ is often a cause,” adds Dr. Burns. “Non-cardiac etiologies include musculoskeletal pain from muscle fibers stretching.”
The myth is that a heart problem would cause chest pain during exercise, since that’s when the increased oxygen demands are occurring.
But it’s entirely possible for a heart issue to cause chest pain only after the workout is finished.
This symptom can be caused by problems with the heart other than clogged arteries.
So just to be sure, you should see a cardiologist. If you’re under 50, have been working out for many years and have not noticed any decline in stamina or energy, are not overweight and have never smoked, chances are that the chest pain is not related to the heart.
But your great medical and workout history is no guarantee, and to a cardiologist, this history is only a guideline, not a diagnostic tool.
In the meantime, while you’re waiting for your doctor’s appointment, take note of any common denominators or pattern that precedes the chest pain following your exercise.
For instance, does it occur only on the days that you bench press? Does it occur only after hardcore cardio regimens but never after weightlifting?
• Is the symptom always in the same spot?
• Is the area of discomfort small or across the entire chest?
• Is it a dull ache or a more severe sensation?
• Does it fluctuate in intensity by changing body position?
Dr. Burns has over 30 years of experience, and he specializes in emergency medicine as well as family medicine. For more info: Legacy ER & Urgent Care.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.