Chest pain is one of the most common symptoms you can get after having COVID. Lots of people get chest pain after COVID. Chest pain can be worrying but it is not normally a risk to your life.
You could get chest pains after COVID due to other causes that might not be related to your COVID infection. If you do have chest pains, it is important to get medical advice to find out if it could lead to a serious heart or lung problem.
Types of chest pain
General Chest Pain
This type of pain can be found anywhere in the chest and the pain can move around your body. Chest pain is often felt just below the left nipple, and can be sharp and quick or ache for hours. This type of chest pain does not happen after you exercise and it is difficult to work out what causes it.
Muscle pains in your chest
This type of pain can be felt in a small area or in a wider area and it can feel like your muscles are sore. The area hurts when you touch it and the pain gets worse by moving such as turning around or stretching.
You could get muscle pain when you have COVID and when you are getting better. This type of pain can also happen when you try new exercises such as push ups.
Chest pains when you breathe in (called pleuritic pain)
This type of pain is sharp and hurts when you breathe in. It usually means you may have heart and lung problems caused by:
- An inflammation of the pleura (the lining of the lungs), causing pleurisy
- An inflammation of the pericardium (the lining of the heart) causing pericarditis – where the pain can be made worse when lying flat but less painful when you sit forward
The pain can be treated with painkillers such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, which you can buy over the counter.
If you have a lung problem, caused by a blood clot (pulmonary embolism) the pain may be sharp and you may be short of breath. It is important to find out if you have this condition so that you can get blood thinning treatment to stop it from happening again.
Angina-type chest pain
This type of chest pain is caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle.
If you have stable angina, you will get a tight or heavy feeling across the chest and this feeling can spread to your arms, neck, jaw or teeth.
If the angina is stable, you can get this feeling after:
- Walking quickly
- Walking up a hill or stairs
The feeling will go away quickly by slowing down or resting but can get worse when the weather is cold.
If the angina gets worse, you can get this feeling after gentle activity or when you are resting.
If you have a heart attack it may feel like angina. Heart attacks are usually more severe, the feeling lasts longer and you will not feel well.
You may also:
- Feel sick
- Feel like you want to vomit
- Feel anxious
- Feel unwell
When should I seek medical help?
You should call 999 if you feel:
- Sudden chest pains which lasts for more than 15 minutes
- Sudden chest pains and you feel sick or you vomit, sweat, or feel short of breath
- Sudden chest pains and you pass out
Primary Care team or GP surgery
You should talk to a healthcare professional at your GP surgery if you are unsure about any type of chest pain.
Please do not ignore any chest pain, especially pain which is bought on by physical exertion and relieved by rest – this may be angina.