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Cardiac Cough: Why It Is An Important Sign Of Heart Disease?

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Cardiac Cough: Why It Is An Important Sign Of Heart Disease?

Cardiology | by Dr. Sabyasachi Pal | Published on 23/12/2022


Long-term cough is one of the prominent health issues which usually becomes common in the winter season. Delhi is considered one of the world's most polluted cities, which is slowly becoming the hub of cardiac diseases. Due to the geographical topography, winters bring along pollution and several cardiovascular diseases which can be fatal for the older population.

Let us find out how you can know if you have cardiac cough and the different methods to treat the condition. Please note that this blog is only for informational purposes and cannot replace the significance of a cardiology doctor’s consultation


What Are The Symptoms Of A Cardiac Cough?

Cardiac cough symptoms vary from an acute cough to chest discomfort. It is often difficult to associate the cough with heart problems as it comes with no clear warning sign. Some heart symptoms are not easy to tell but can be determined through comprehensive diagnosis. A long-term cough usually indicates your heart condition may be getting worse, the treatment isn't effective as it needs to be, and side effects from your heart failure medication, or undiagnosed heart failure. 


Depending on the duration and severity of the cardiac cough, you may experience the possible symptoms like - 

  • A wet cough that produces mucus which may be slightly pink due to blood
  • Heavy wheezing or whistling sound that occurs during breathing and is accompanied by a cough
  • Shortness of breath while engaging in minimal activities or lying down
  • Waking up often due to coughing or breathing issues (Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea)
  • A bubbling feeling in the chest due to fluid buildup in the lungs
  • A long-term dry cough that gets worse with time


How Does Cardiac Cough Occurs? 

Cardiac arrest is not a form of asthma. Depending on how severe the symptoms are, the cough can be a medical emergency. Frequent episodes of heart failure can cause fluid to build up in the alveoli, which are the air sacs in the lungs. This causes shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. 

Some doctors also associate lung congestion which is caused due to the worsening of heart failure, side effects of any medications, etc. The cough from ACE inhibitors tends to be dry which may require you to switch to a different medication. Also, if you suspect side effects, discuss your condition with the doctor to avoid complications and switch to a different heart medicine. 

How Can I Treat Cardiac Cough?

A cardiac cough is usually the result of our body trying to expel foreign bacteria out of the body. After a comprehensive diagnosis, the doctor may run tests such as blood tests, chest x-ray, echocardiograms, stress tests, etc. to confirm the cough due to cardiac issues. After determining the type and severity of the cardiac cough, the doctor may suggest lifestyle changes and dietary restrictions which can be effective in getting rid of the cough. 

Here are some treatment methods which can help relieve cardiac cough symptoms - 

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Minimal exercise
  • Managing stress
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding or limiting alcohol and caffeine content

Furthermore, the doctor also recommends medications to treat heart failure which can subsequently cure cardiac cough. However, the effectiveness of the treatment can vary from one patient to another depending on their medical health, the severity of the condition, existing health issues, etc. Medications for cardiac cough treatment include - 

  • Beta-blockers
  • Aldosterone antagonists
  • Digoxin
  • Diuretics
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers
  • Angiotensin-receptor neprilysin inhibitors
  • Hydralazine and isosorbide mononitrate
  • SGLT2 inhibitors


A cough is often mistaken for a lung disease when it can be triggered due to a heart condition. Some people with a history of asthma may also encounter frequent coughs which is a result of inflammation of the airways. However, asthma has nothing to do with the build-up of fluid in the lungs. 

It is essential to distinguish the condition that causes cough in order to choose the best course of action. Treatment for heart failure is different and can help improve cardiac cough symptoms. It is important that you discuss your condition with the cardiologist for a comprehensive diagnosis and timely treatment.



What are the side effects of a cardiac cough?

The cardiac cough usually causes a frequent, wet cough which can lead to the following complications - 

  • Dyspnea
  • Wheezing
  • Confusion and impaired thinking
  • CHF  


Why do heart patients cough at night?

A weak heart causes fluid to back up in air sacs in the lungs. This causes shortness of breath and makes it difficult for the patient to breathe while resting or lying flat in bed. Furthermore, lung congestion can also cause a dry, hacking cough or wheezing.


Whom should I consult for my cardiac cough treatment?

Get in touch with the pulmonologist or a cardiologist in case you are experiencing cardiac cough. A cardiologist specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions related to the heart. Since most patients who suffer from a cardiac cough are aged, consulting a cardiologist who is able to treat patients with co-morbidities effectively is usually preferred.