Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Can running cause chest pains?"

ZocdocAnswersCan running cause chest pains?


I'm pretty out of shape ? in my middle age, and haven't worked out since I was young. I'm trying to take up running, but I've had trouble with it. The last two times I've gone out, I've had to stop due to pretty sharp chest pains. Is this normal? Should I see a doctor, or just quit running?


Chest pain of any type should always be evaluated by a physician. This is especially true if you are a middle aged male because the chance of heart disease (specifically coronary artery disease) is always possible. Coronary artery disease is caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. They form silently for many years going undetected because of the large reserve of blood flow that the heart gets. When the arteries get narrowed to a certain point, it can cause chest pain that usually is only noticed (at first) during times of exertion (running). This pain is usually described as a heavy pressure that sometimes radiates to the arm or jaw. Your description of sharp chest pains is not consistent with this, but I would not want to take a chance. The good news is that we have great non-invasive tests for coronary artery disease which can tell if you have something that needs treated. After a thorough history and physical exam, you doctor will likely know which test is best for you. The best type of doctor for you to see is a cardiologist. If you cannot get in to see one, then your primary care physician should be able to help you get in to get a treadmill stress test. This may be the best option to see if there is underlying coronary artery disease causing your chest pain.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.