Chest pain while running

  • kbaketm

    Posts: 36

    Jun 23, 2012 3:47 PM GMT
    Not everytime, but sometimes when I run, I will get pretty bad chest pains that will make me stop running because the pain is so intense. I've had chest pains since I was probably around 12 years old (so going on for approximately 10 years), but they have only been acting up while I've been running for maybe the past year or two. I've went to various cardiologists and doctors and they keep telling me that my heart is working fine. I understand that it doesn't necessarily have to do with my heart for me to be having chest pains, but I was just wondering if anyone else is having this problem. I've lessened the intensity of my jogs to help make sure I don't have any pain, which has seemed to help some. My only problem with that is I feel like I will never be able to pick up speed if I only stay at a slower, jogging level rather than being able to sprint and pick up some speed.

    Any advice?
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    Jun 23, 2012 5:04 PM GMT
    Not much we can do for you here. What tests have they performed? I discovered what GERD is by seeing a cardiologist first before a gastroenterologist.

    I have a lot of faith in a stress-echo test by a cardiologist. They have you run on a treadmill while hooked up to a 10-lead EKG to build your heartrate up, then stop and lie down on a table so they can use an ultrasound to actually videotape your heart valve function and take size measurements.

    If you've had that test and say nothing is wrong, consider a different doctor. One with athlete experience.

    [Edit] On a side note: how fast are you trying to run?

    One thing about that treadmill test is it gives you an educated guess as to what your max heart rate should be. If you're taking a supplement that accelerates your metabolism and run on top of that, you might want to consider a good heart-rate monitor watch to keep from over-exerting yourself.

    I'm partial to the Polar brand with the wireless chest strap transmitter (although I have to get a good sweat going for it to work). Most Precor and StarTrak gym cardio equipment has a heart-rate display that receives their signal.
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    Jun 23, 2012 5:26 PM GMT
    kbaketm saidNot everytime, but sometimes when I run, I will get pretty bad chest pains that will make me stop running because the pain is so intense. I've had chest pains since I was probably around 12 years old (so going on for approximately 10 years), but they have only been acting up while I've been running for maybe the past year or two. I've went to various cardiologists and doctors and they keep telling me that my heart is working fine. I understand that it doesn't necessarily have to do with my heart for me to be having chest pains, but I was just wondering if anyone else is having this problem. I've lessened the intensity of my jogs to help make sure I don't have any pain, which has seemed to help some. My only problem with that is I feel like I will never be able to pick up speed if I only stay at a slower, jogging level rather than being able to sprint and pick up some speed.

    Any advice?


    Check your heart rate when you're working out and tell us what it is at when you get chest pains (find pulse, count beats in 6 seconds, multiply by 10). If you're cleared by a cardiologist who did exercise stress testing on you, then it sounds like you're either completely kicking your butt unnecessarily when you run (ie running balls to the wall, all out), or they missed something. Did you get the chest pains when you were stress tested at the cardiologist?

    Super intense running should be compared to heavy lifting (like lots of weight lifting--low reps, high weight). You can't do it everyday. If you do, it will cause more breakdown than buildup of muscle--in this case cardiac muscle, and it won't repair in time for your next bout. Personally, I get chest pain if I overdo the running at high intensities and don't allow enough recovery time or calories (nutrition) from that bout before bed time--but mine happens after the fact.

    The health benefits of running come from low to moderate intensity--not high intensity, and you're able to do this intensity everyday if you could. At high intensity, you aren't working the same energy systems or causing the same changes in the blood. On the contrary, you stress your system out (which is only good every now and then to maintain a high cardiovascular capacity, or VO2max). Light-moderate cardiovascular exercise is better for health benefits (raised HDL cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, increased blood circulation and nitric oxide release, reduced cortisol levels if done for 30-45 min max--raises cortisol if you do it longer).

    There are various cardio training zones--which is why I'd want you to check your heart rate next time you run to see what zone that is for you.

    I'd estimate your max heart rate at about 193 beats/min from the 208-(0.7*age) updated max heart rate formula. Generally speaking, depending on resting heart rate, if you're around 170 or greater bpm during your exercise, it may be too intense if you do that daily.

    I'd get more detailed, but I don't know if you're going to even come back to this post later.

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    Jun 23, 2012 5:55 PM GMT
    I have been getting somethi similar for the past couple of years on high intensity runs (usually races). It starts out as a dull pain slightly left of centre after about 20min of running and slowly gets more painful for about 15min before subsiding completely.

    It is disconcerting and I should really get it checked out, but I'm too scared.
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    Jun 23, 2012 6:12 PM GMT
    Running is not the end-all be-all. (Hmm, that looks terrible in print, but it makes total sense when you say it.) Running is good, but it is not for everybody. A solid walk can be just as good for you. You don't HAVE to get your heart rate up to 85% or whatever it is they say. JUST DO SOMETHING.

    I used to run a lot, but have gotten in to weight training and body building over the last three years. Turns out that running too much when weight training is not "good" for you because it eats the protein/carbs/whatever that you are trying to pack on with the weights. Today I warm up/cool down on the treadmill and don't really do any real running... other than the Naked 5K Runs held periodically. http://www.NudeRuns.com
  • kbaketm

    Posts: 36

    Jun 23, 2012 6:12 PM GMT
    RobertF64 saidNot much we can do for you here. What tests have they performed? I discovered what GERD is by seeing a cardiologist first before a gastroenterologist.

    I have a lot of faith in a stress-echo test by a cardiologist. They have you run on a treadmill while hooked up to a 10-lead EKG to build your heartrate up, then stop and lie down on a table so they can use an ultrasound to actually videotape your heart valve function and take size measurements.

    If you've had that test and say nothing is wrong, consider a different doctor. One with athlete experience.

    [Edit] On a side note: how fast are you trying to run?

    One thing about that treadmill test is it gives you an educated guess as to what your max heart rate should be. If you're taking a supplement that accelerates your metabolism and run on top of that, you might want to consider a good heart-rate monitor watch to keep from over-exerting yourself.

    I'm partial to the Polar brand with the wireless chest strap transmitter (although I have to get a good sweat going for it to work). Most Precor and StarTrak gym cardio equipment has a heart-rate display that receives their signal.


    To my knowledge, they've done an EKG on me and a treadmill stress test. When I had the EKG, they said that my valves and everything were fine. When I had the treadmill stress test, I worked as hard as I could, but I ended up not being able to get chest pains, so they really didn't tell me that they thought any particular thing was wrong with me.

    When I make my move to Tampa, I'm planning on finding all different doctors from my hometown, so hopefully I can figure out what's going on.

    Regarding how fast I'm trying to run, I'm not in a heavy sprint. I don't feel like I'm running that fast, but sometimes my chest is making me feel otherwise. It can get so bad to where I just have to turn around and go home and I haven't even made it even half mile or a mile. My chest pains have always been kinda sporadic, even before I started getting them during exercise. It's always been something that has been in the back of my mind, and I hate that a doctor has not been able to pinpoint anything.

    And whether it's related or not, I've always been the kind of guy that is stressed out a lot, particularly being that I'm not out of the closet to basically everyone from my hometown. That has stressed me out a lot over the past 10 years, but since being in a different town for college, I've came out and have basically lived a double life for the past 2 years. So I also wonder if chronic stress has taken a toll on me. I will be coming out to my family in the next month or two, so hopefully I can stop being stressed all of the time.

    I'm going to see what my pulse and heart rate is like when I run to see if my levels are out of wack. I'll get back with you as soon as I can manage to do so.

    Thanks for the advice!
  • kbaketm

    Posts: 36

    Jun 23, 2012 6:15 PM GMT
    bluey2223 said
    kbaketm saidNot everytime, but sometimes when I run, I will get pretty bad chest pains that will make me stop running because the pain is so intense. I've had chest pains since I was probably around 12 years old (so going on for approximately 10 years), but they have only been acting up while I've been running for maybe the past year or two. I've went to various cardiologists and doctors and they keep telling me that my heart is working fine. I understand that it doesn't necessarily have to do with my heart for me to be having chest pains, but I was just wondering if anyone else is having this problem. I've lessened the intensity of my jogs to help make sure I don't have any pain, which has seemed to help some. My only problem with that is I feel like I will never be able to pick up speed if I only stay at a slower, jogging level rather than being able to sprint and pick up some speed.

    Any advice?


    Check your heart rate when you're working out and tell us what it is at when you get chest pains (find pulse, count beats in 6 seconds, multiply by 10). If you're cleared by a cardiologist who did exercise stress testing on you, then it sounds like you're either completely kicking your butt unnecessarily when you run (ie running balls to the wall, all out), or they missed something. Did you get the chest pains when you were stress tested at the cardiologist?

    Super intense running should be compared to heavy lifting (like lots of weight lifting--low reps, high weight). You can't do it everyday. If you do, it will cause more breakdown than buildup of muscle--in this case cardiac muscle, and it won't repair in time for your next bout. Personally, I get chest pain if I overdo the running at high intensities and don't allow enough recovery time or calories (nutrition) from that bout before bed time--but mine happens after the fact.

    The health benefits of running come from low to moderate intensity--not high intensity, and you're able to do this intensity everyday if you could. At high intensity, you aren't working the same energy systems or causing the same changes in the blood. On the contrary, you stress your system out (which is only good every now and then to maintain a high cardiovascular capacity, or VO2max). Light-moderate cardiovascular exercise is better for health benefits (raised HDL cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, increased blood circulation and nitric oxide release, reduced cortisol levels if done for 30-45 min max--raises cortisol if you do it longer).

    There are various cardio training zones--which is why I'd want you to check your heart rate next time you run to see what zone that is for you.

    I'd estimate your max heart rate at about 193 beats/min from the 208-(0.7*age) updated max heart rate formula. Generally speaking, depending on resting heart rate, if you're around 170 or greater bpm during your exercise, it may be too intense if you do that daily.

    I'd get more detailed, but I don't know if you're going to even come back to this post later.



    Thanks for the advice! I'll keep all of that in mind. If you read my previous post, I believe I've answered your question about the stress test.

    I also posted on the strength training messaging boards about finding a personal trainer. I am hoping that between a doc and personal trainer, that I can find someone who start me on an exercise regimen that works for me so that I can have great form and as little to no pain as possible when I run.
  • kbaketm

    Posts: 36

    Jun 23, 2012 6:16 PM GMT
    runnerza saidI have been getting somethi similar for the past couple of years on high intensity runs (usually races). It starts out as a dull pain slightly left of centre after about 20min of running and slowly gets more painful for about 15min before subsiding completely.

    It is disconcerting and I should really get it checked out, but I'm too scared.


    I definitely think you should get it checked out! Your health is very important and if you have anything that is bothering you, you have an obligation to yourself to go to a doctor and make sure everything is okay! icon_smile.gif

    Take care!
  • kbaketm

    Posts: 36

    Jun 23, 2012 6:20 PM GMT
    NakedBudd saidRunning is not the end-all be-all. (Hmm, that looks terrible in print, but it makes total sense when you say it.) Running is good, but it is not for everybody. A solid walk can be just as good for you. You don't HAVE to get your heart rate up to 85% or whatever it is they say. JUST DO SOMETHING.

    I used to run a lot, but have gotten in to weight training and body building over the last three years. Turns out that running too much when weight training is not "good" for you because it eats the protein/carbs/whatever that you are trying to pack on with the weights. Today I warm up/cool down on the treadmill and don't really do any real running... other than the Naked 5K Runs held periodically. http://www.NudeRuns.com


    Yeah, I totally understand that. It's just that I really really love running, and it upsets me that this has been a problem for me. I had switched over to biking for a little bit, also to help out my knees. I have patellar tendonitis in one, or maybe both of my knees. I've never had chest pains when biking, but I would definitely rather be running than biking. It's just a preference thing, but if it comes to my health, I'll definitely bike if absolutely necessary.

    My brother told me the same thing about how too much running can keep me from building muscle. So once I start working out, I guess I'll cut back on the running a little bit so that I can focus on some muscle building.

    Thanks for the advice! icon_smile.gif
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    Jun 23, 2012 6:32 PM GMT
    It sounds like anxiety to me. I have anxiety myself, but you probably have it manifested differently during exercise. For me, exercise relieves anxiety because I know I'm good at it and feel comfortable doing it. If you are still holding in all that insecure stuff while you are running, the heart isn't able to keep up with the oxygen demand, especially if you're holding your breath, which is what happens often during anxiety unconsciously (or at least doesn't synchronize with the type of breathing you should be doing). Sounds like a combination of not breathing correctly/deeply and anxiety.

    I've gone to a therapist (LCSW) for the past year and it has made a huge difference. I bet that if your problem is not physiological, a doctor won't be able to cure it. Check out a therapist. Nothing uncommon about gay men in their 20s going to them. I've been 3 times personally since age 20, going either 1 month, 3 months, or in this case, a year (most significant changes now). It takes a lot of time to reverse the shame and guilt and double lives you try to live when you inherently feel you are flawed for being gay, which isn't the case at all. You gotta talk it out with a professional who knows how to deal with this issue--find a gay male therapist in your area! He can be a LCSW, a clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist (I do not recommend medication, so avoid the third, but that's my medical philosophy is that meds are overused, especially for tough subjects like mental health).
  • kbaketm

    Posts: 36

    Jun 23, 2012 6:48 PM GMT
    bluey2223 saidIt sounds like anxiety to me. I have anxiety myself, but you probably have it manifested differently during exercise. For me, exercise relieves anxiety because I know I'm good at it and feel comfortable doing it. If you are still holding in all that insecure stuff while you are running, the heart isn't able to keep up with the oxygen demand, especially if you're holding your breath, which is what happens often during anxiety unconsciously (or at least doesn't synchronize with the type of breathing you should be doing). Sounds like a combination of not breathing correctly/deeply and anxiety.

    I've gone to a therapist (LCSW) for the past year and it has made a huge difference. I bet that if your problem is not physiological, a doctor won't be able to cure it. Check out a therapist. Nothing uncommon about gay men in their 20s going to them. I've been 3 times personally since age 20, going either 1 month, 3 months, or in this case, a year (most significant changes now). It takes a lot of time to reverse the shame and guilt and double lives you try to live when you inherently feel you are flawed for being gay, which isn't the case at all. You gotta talk it out with a professional who knows how to deal with this issue--find a gay male therapist in your area! He can be a LCSW, a clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist (I do not recommend medication, so avoid the third, but that's my medical philosophy is that meds are overused, especially for tough subjects like mental health).


    I definitely know that it's not my breathing because my brother has drilled into me about good breathing techniques during running. If for whatever reason I am holding my breath, it definitely is subconscious, but I highly doubt it. I do agree that I probably have high levels of anxiety when I run. I run so that I can help alleviate that anxiety, but with the pain that I get sometimes, it ends up having adverse effects.

    I've gone to counseling a couple of times on campus while I was a student, but it was so busy, that it was so hard to get an appointment. I was referred to a counselor/therapist off campus, but unfortunately I could not afford one due to the low income I had as a student. I'll definitely have more money once I start my job, so I will see about getting one at that time. I do not plan on taking any meds, so I will definitely stay away from a psychiatrist.
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    Jun 23, 2012 7:10 PM GMT
    Its a good point that running isn't for everyone. What motivates you to run?

    Going from 270lbs to 180lbs wasn't going to happen for me by running 10 minute miles. Looks great for race stats. Not so much for flab burn.

    Switched from running on a flat treadmill incline to power-walking on a steep treadmill incline and got over my plateau at 240lbs. In this case, speeds that force you to start running is cheating.

    I had to add leg strength to cardio conditioning to survive. Today, an hour of 3mph (20 min miles) at the max incline setting causes that guess-o-meter to read 950 calories burned. I'm at a different plateau at 212. But, eliminating most of my wheat/processed foods intake should help with that. icon_confused.gif
  • kbaketm

    Posts: 36

    Jun 23, 2012 7:17 PM GMT
    RobertF64 saidIts a good point that running isn't for everyone. What motivates you to run?

    Going from 270lbs to 180lbs wasn't going to happen for me by running 10 minute miles. Looks great for race stats. Not so much for flab burn.

    Switched from running on a flat treadmill incline to power-walking on a steep treadmill incline and got over my plateau at 240lbs. In this case, speeds that force you to start running is cheating.

    I had to add leg strength to cardio conditioning to survive. Today, an hour of 3mph (20 min miles) at the max incline setting causes that guess-o-meter to read 950 calories burned. I'm at a different plateau at 212. But, eliminating most of my wheat/processed foods intake should help with that. icon_confused.gif


    I run the best when I'm going through some sort of emotion, whether its anger or sadness, or even when I just feel like I have a lot of energy that I need to release.

    I'm glad you were able to get over your plateau! I know it's so discouraging when you hit one, so I'm very pleased to hear you were able to make it through it! icon_smile.gif
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    Jun 23, 2012 7:36 PM GMT
    Ok, you're running for a good reason. But, running shouldn't cause chest pains. Something isn't right.

    My chest pain was like you described, except it was caused by a duodenal ulcer and I wasn't doing any cardio at all at the time.icon_redface.gif.

    See if the discomfort changes with antacids? I've discovered I actually can't drink regular gatorade and run for some reason.
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    Jun 23, 2012 8:04 PM GMT
    I had the same experience with campus treatment counseling. It's only good for acute issues--not chronic issues like anxiety/coming out/changing who you are as a dysfunctional to functional gay man (in my case).

    I pay out of pocket for mine. My insurance only covers 20 sessions a year, which isn't enough to fix a major chronic problem you've developed since childhood.

    I figure most people spend the same amount weekly on entertainment, drugs, or alcohol that my spending it on therapy is a worthwhile expense. If I get no insurance coverage next year, it will be pricey...But if insurance covers some of it, it's much more manageable. It's like choosing to stop smoking--you have to want to do it and recognize there is a problem and that it is the only way you will get fixed.
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    Jun 23, 2012 8:21 PM GMT
    Spontaneous pneumothorax? Psychosomatic origin?
  • kbaketm

    Posts: 36

    Jun 23, 2012 8:26 PM GMT
    RobertF64 saidOk, you're running for a good reason. But, running shouldn't cause chest pains. Something isn't right.

    My chest pain was like you described, except it was caused by a duodenal ulcer and I wasn't doing any cardio at all at the time.icon_redface.gif.

    See if the discomfort changes with antacids? I've discovered I actually can't drink regular gatorade and run for some reason.


    I usually take antacids when I get chest pains. Should I take them before I run? I don't think that sounds like a good idea, but I figured I'd ask.
  • kbaketm

    Posts: 36

    Jun 23, 2012 8:28 PM GMT
    bluey2223 saidI had the same experience with campus treatment counseling. It's only good for acute issues--not chronic issues like anxiety/coming out/changing who you are as a dysfunctional to functional gay man (in my case).

    I pay out of pocket for mine. My insurance only covers 20 sessions a year, which isn't enough to fix a major chronic problem you've developed since childhood.

    I figure most people spend the same amount weekly on entertainment, drugs, or alcohol that my spending it on therapy is a worthwhile expense. If I get no insurance coverage next year, it will be pricey...But if insurance covers some of it, it's much more manageable. It's like choosing to stop smoking--you have to want to do it and recognize there is a problem and that it is the only way you will get fixed.


    When I start my job, I will have pretty good benefits, so hopefully getting into counseling and paying for it should be quite easy for me. I'll look into it once I get down there. Thanks for all of your advice! I appreciate it!
  • kbaketm

    Posts: 36

    Jun 23, 2012 8:30 PM GMT
    Velociraptor saidSpontaneous pneumothorax? Psychosomatic origin?


    I looked up the symptoms for spontaneous pneumothorax, and most of the symptoms don't apply to me, so hopefully that is not what I have.

    And yeah, it's probably psychosomatic. It would be nice to just know what exactly is causing it so I can change. So hopefully counseling and doing stress relieving activities will help.
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    Jun 24, 2012 3:08 AM GMT
    kbaketm said

    I usually take antacids when I get chest pains. Should I take them before I run? I don't think that sounds like a good idea, but I figured I'd ask.

    My only hope is that it will help us figure out if its gastro and not cardio (and not as dangerous.)

    But, I'm not a doctor. Be prepared to tell them what you eat/drink before and during your run. Bacon and dairy products might not be a good idea before a run. B-)
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    Jun 24, 2012 3:15 AM GMT
    kbaketm saidNot everytime, but sometimes when I run, I will get pretty bad chest pains that will make me stop running because the pain is so intense. I've had chest pains since I was probably around 12 years old (so going on for approximately 10 years), but they have only been acting up while I've been running for maybe the past year or two. I've went to various cardiologists and doctors and they keep telling me that my heart is working fine. I understand that it doesn't necessarily have to do with my heart for me to be having chest pains, but I was just wondering if anyone else is having this problem. I've lessened the intensity of my jogs to help make sure I don't have any pain, which has seemed to help some. My only problem with that is I feel like I will never be able to pick up speed if I only stay at a slower, jogging level rather than being able to sprint and pick up some speed.

    Any advice?

    I used to have that problem in cold weather. I think it's caused by not warming up enough.
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    Jun 24, 2012 3:16 AM GMT
    I retired from running for this very reason haha. Maybe I am just out of shape when it comes to cardio.
  • kbaketm

    Posts: 36

    Jun 24, 2012 1:39 PM GMT
    RobertF64 said
    kbaketm said

    I usually take antacids when I get chest pains. Should I take them before I run? I don't think that sounds like a good idea, but I figured I'd ask.

    My only hope is that it will help us figure out if its gastro and not cardio (and not as dangerous.)

    But, I'm not a doctor. Be prepared to tell them what you eat/drink before and during your run. Bacon and dairy products might not be a good idea before a run. B-)


    Yeah, thanks! I'll keep this topic updated as I find out more.
  • kbaketm

    Posts: 36

    Jun 24, 2012 1:40 PM GMT
    joe122 said
    kbaketm saidNot everytime, but sometimes when I run, I will get pretty bad chest pains that will make me stop running because the pain is so intense. I've had chest pains since I was probably around 12 years old (so going on for approximately 10 years), but they have only been acting up while I've been running for maybe the past year or two. I've went to various cardiologists and doctors and they keep telling me that my heart is working fine. I understand that it doesn't necessarily have to do with my heart for me to be having chest pains, but I was just wondering if anyone else is having this problem. I've lessened the intensity of my jogs to help make sure I don't have any pain, which has seemed to help some. My only problem with that is I feel like I will never be able to pick up speed if I only stay at a slower, jogging level rather than being able to sprint and pick up some speed.

    Any advice?

    I used to have that problem in cold weather. I think it's caused by not warming up enough.


    I'm pretty sure it was not only in cold weather that it happened, but I will take notice of it in the future!
  • kbaketm

    Posts: 36

    Jun 24, 2012 1:42 PM GMT
    msuNtx saidI retired from running for this very reason haha. Maybe I am just out of shape when it comes to cardio.


    You look incredibly in shape, so that is very surprising!

    Once I move, I'm going to be exercising more and I'll start keeping a journal of what happens and the conditions that I am in during that pain, and hopefully I can find some sort of pattern.