The presence of chest pain while running during cold weather might be due to various health issues. For some individuals, running is a highly enjoyed activity which concurrently revitalizes and eases the body, energizing the heart rate and warming up the muscles. On the other hand, this activity can cause discomfort in some individuals such as knee or ankle pain, but others can experience chest pain.
Exposure to cold air
Rapid breathing in of cold air via the mouth up to the lungs can trigger chest pain though the individual does not have the type of asthma induced by exercise. While inhaling air via the nose, the small blood vessels close to the nasal cavity warm and provide moisture to the air.
Once the inhaled air is moistened and warmed, it travels down the airways and into the lungs in which the body accepts it easily. On the other hand, breathing via the mouth is usually done by many individuals while running. As a result, the air is not moisturized or warmed. The cold, dry air can irritate the airways slightly, but it does not cause them to constrict.
In most cases, the cause of chest pain while running is no other than exercise-induced asthma. Always bear in mind that the cold, dry air that is being inhaled into the lungs during activity is believed to be the main cause of this type of asthma.
When running, the breathing becomes rapid and shallow. As the air rapidly moves via the mouth and into the lungs, it does not have enough time to properly warm up. Among those who have exercise-induced asthma, the abrupt intake of cold air can irritate the lungs and constricts the airways, thus triggering the symptoms of asthma. Aside from the chest pain, the indications of exercise-induced asthma are the following:
- Shortness of breath
In some instances, the chest pain that occurs while running might be due to a serious heart condition such as a heart attack or an aortic tear. The aorta is positioned on top of the heart and supplies blood from the heart to the lungs, brain and the rest of the body.
If the aorta slightly tears, the blood flow to the rest of the body is disrupted. In the same way, a heart attack can also lead to an interrupted blood flow to the lungs, brain and the entire body. Remember that both an aortic tear and heart attack can also cause immediate chest pain along with nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness and radiating pain. Even though running will not directly trigger either condition, the vigorous exercise might be responsible. It is best to seek immediate medical care in both cases.
Some individuals can experience chest pain while running due to clogged coronary arteries. As the face is struck with cold wind, the heart beat drops faintly. Even though this fall in the heart rate will not trigger any immediate issues, it can eventually affect the body.
As the heart rate continues to reduce, the blood flow to the heart is also reduced. Since the heart receives its oxygen from the blood, the diminished heart rate results to diminished flow of oxygen to the heart. In case the heart muscles could not acquire the oxygen it requires, it starts to hurt.
Management of chest pain
In most cases, the chest pain can be relieved by resting. Once the individual stops running, the pain and tightness in the chest should diminish within 10-15 minutes. In case the chest pain is instigated by breathing in cold air, the individual should wear a scarf that is wrapped around the mouth while running.
If possible, breathe via the nose. In case of exercise-induced asthma, there are certain medications that can be used to keep the airways dilated to promote easy passage of air. Additionally, medications might also be needed for heart issues. Nevertheless, blocked arteries or serious heart conditions might require the individual to avoid engaging in any vigorous exercise. In such cases, it is best to opt for less rigorous activities instead.