You may experience chest pain after COVID-19. The virus can cause lasting damage to the heart muscle and heart tissue even in mild cases, and chest pain is often an indicator of heart complications. Coronavirus may directly affect heart cells or there may be a downstream effect on the heart when the body creates an inflammatory response to fight off the illness. The infection can also cause damage to veins and arteries as well as blood clots which can disrupt blood flow throughout the body.
While post-COVID chest pain and heart issues are more prevalent in those with pre-existing heart conditions, young and healthy people who have recovered can also develop chronic cardiac disease and injury. Issues in the lungs, esophagus, muscles, ribs, or nerves can also cause chest pain due to asthma, acid reflux (GERD), pneumonia, peptic ulcers, or muscle strain.
You may feel that your chest pain is
Anxiety, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also cause chest pain, especially if they are accompanied by rapid heart rate. It is normal for people who recover from COVID-19 to experience anxiety and anxiety disorders due to the stress and trauma of having a potentially fatal illness.
Seeing a Doctor for Chest Pain
Since the cardiac symptoms of Long COVID can mimic those of serious conditions, you should see a doctor if your chest pain is persistent, increasingly frequent, or is only alleviated with rest. Your physician will first determine whether your chest pain is musculoskeletal, nonspecific, or cardiovascular. They will examine your medical history, consider potential risk factors, and perform a physical examination. If there is no clear cause and they are unable to make a diagnosis, they may refer you to a cardiologist or other specialist for further testing.
If you had cardiac symptoms while you were sick with COVID, you should have a cardiac assessment before you resume any strenuous physical activity or exercise. You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience chest pain with:
- Nausea, shortness of breath, sweating, or dizziness
- Sudden chest pain with shortness of breath lasting more than five minutes
Rapid Heart Rate and High Blood Pressure
Rapid heart rate, also called tachycardia, means your heart is beating more than 100 times per minute. When your heart is beating too fast it may not deliver enough blood to the other organs and tissues of your body. You might experience other symptoms with a rapid heart rate:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- A feeling that your heart is beating quickly or irregularly (palpitations)
High blood pressure means blood is flowing through your blood vessels with too much force. High blood pressure can damage your arteries, heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. If your high blood pressure remains untreated, it can increase the risk of:
- Memory problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Heart attack
- Kidney failure
- Sudden blindness
It is normal for your heart rate and blood pressure to be higher when you exercise. If you have these symptoms when resting this is not normal and it may be due to stress, trauma, illness, or other lifestyle factors like diet. Since COVID-19 can damage heart muscle and tissue, you may have a rapid heart rate or high blood pressure after you recover. Stress associated with having COVID-19 can also increase your heart rate and blood pressure.
Seeing a Doctor for Rapid Heart Rate or High Blood Pressure
You should call 911 or seek immediate medical attention if you have any of the following symptoms:
- A rapid heart rate and feel faint
- Severe chest pain that lasts more than several minutes
- Difficulty breathing
Overtime, rapid heart rate and high blood pressure can cause long-term health problems. So, even if your symptoms are less severe, it is important to see a doctor.
Your doctor may ask you questions or run tests to see if your symptoms are due to other factors like anemia, dehydration, smoking, medication side effects, hyperthyroidism, or drinking alcohol or caffeine. To treat the underlying causes of rapid heart rate and high blood pressure, your options might include:
- Physical therapy
- Dietary changes