ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have chest pains after exercise?

Question

Why do I have chest pains after exercise?

I'm a young woman and I'm very fit, stay very active. As of two months ago, exercise often ends with me feeling a sharp, stabbing sensation in my chest, above my breast. I know it could be a muscle spasm, but I'm still worried. What should I do?

Answer

Chest pain after exercise can be concerning. I strongly encourage you to talk to your primary doctor regarding this. Chest pain is a worrisome symptom. The reason we are very concerned anytime someone complains of chest pain is that there are many important structures in the chest--notably the heart. Any complaint of chest pain requires a doctor's evaluation to ensure that this is not a sign of heart disease. Chest pain after exercise is CLASSIC for heart disease. It is known as angina. Essentially what happens is that the blood vessels that supply the heart narrow as we age. High blood pressure and high cholesterol accelerate this process. Normally the heart is fine, but when we exercise the heart works harder and requires more blood supply. However, if the blood vessels are narrowed and can't supply enough blood then the heart doesn't get enough---this results in chest pain. We worry about this because this means you are at risk for a heart attack. That being said, heart disease is uncommon in young healthy women. It should not be ruled out---but is uncommon. Lung, gastrointestinal and muscle problems can also cause this. Breast trauma is also common in women who do not have appropriate support. I encourage you to talk to your doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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