Staying healthy is a delicate balance of nutrition, exercise, lifestyle choices, and medical care. Physical activity alone can help maintain healthy blood pressure, improve your mood, promote healthy cholesterol levels, and improve blood circulation. However, if you’re keeping active to stay healthy, you may experience problems that make that harder to do, like chest pain.
There are a number of reasons you can experience pain in your chest during physical activity like cardio, and you should better understand why it can happen and what it means for your health. To that end, let’s explore the possible causes of chest pain, why it may occur during exercise, and how to prevent and manage the problem.
If you live in the Secaucus, Elizabeth, Paramus, or Lakewood, New Jersey, and you’re experiencing chest pain or other cardiovascular problems, Dr. Kunal Patel and our experienced medical staff at NJ Cardiovascular Institute can help.
Understanding chest pain
This is a broad term for different kinds of pain you can experience in your chest, ranging from a dull ache to a stabbing sensation.
Heart-related chest pain can be a crushing or burning feeling and can travel to different areas, such as the neck, jaw, or arms. It may also be accompanied by shortness of breath, cold sweats, lightheadedness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, or accelerated heartbeat.
If the pain is not related to heart problems, however, you may have other symptoms, like a sour taste while eating, problems swallowing, or pain when you cough.
Reasons for chest pain during exercise
Pain in the chest can result from issues with different systems in your body, including the cardiovascular, pulmonary, and digestive systems.
During cardio exercise, you breathe faster. Your heart pumps faster and harder to get the oxygenated blood to your muscles. If you have chest pain while exercising, it could be a sign of a serious medical condition, so it’s always best to see a heart expert like Dr. Patel. He can examine you and do testing to determine if your pain is heart-related or a result of another condition.
Cardiovascular causes of chest pain may include coronary artery disease, heart attack, mitral valve prolapse, coronary artery dissection, myocarditis, or pericarditis.
Lung conditions that may cause your chest to hurt include pleuritis, lung abscess, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, asthma, pulmonary hypertension, pneumothorax. Chest pain can also occur with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an umbrella term that includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or chronic obstructive asthma.
Various problems in the digestive tract can also lead to chest pain, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), esophageal contraction disorders, peptic ulcers, hiatal hernias, pancreatitis, and gallbladder conditions.
Prevention and treatment
The best way to prevent chest pain depends on the root cause of the pain. Some basic steps you can take to prevent heart-related chest pain include eating a balanced diet, avoiding smoking, managing your blood pressure, and adjusting physical activities in accordance to doctor’s orders.
If you have another condition, such as asthma, prevention may include using your medications and inhalers as prescribed and avoiding any allergy triggers.
If you do have chest pain while exercising or at rest, the treatment depends on the underlying condition that is triggering the pain. For example, for heart-related chest pain called angina, prescription medications that relax the arteries may help ease the pain. Pain caused by GERD may improve with medication that reduces stomach acid.
If you’re having chest pain while you’re walking, biking, or doing other physical activities, don’t ignore it. To find out why your chest hurts and what we can do to help, make an appointment with Dr. Patel and our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute today.