Cough as a Sign of Cardiovascular Disease

Most people think that coughing is a common symptom of a cold or allergies, but it can also be a sign of a cardiovascular disease. It can happen when the right ventricle actively fills the lung tissue with blood, while the left one is unable to push it out at the same rate. This leads to a worsening of blood circulation and an increase in pressure in the lungs, causing hypoxia and making you constantly want to clear the throat and breathe in more air. This condition is known as a cardiac cough.

Symptoms and causes of a cardiac cough

A weak heart function and the emergence of a number of pathologies lead to stagnation of blood in the lungs – this is the main cause of a cardiac cough. At the same time, depending on the disease, a cardiac cough differs according to symptoms, pain level, and the presence or absence of expectorated blood.

The main pathologies of the heart that cause coughing include:

  • Cardiosclerosis
  • Myocarditis
  • Arrhythmia
  • Ischemic disease
  • Alcoholic myocardiopathy
  • Paroxysmal tachycardia
  • Hypertension
  • A damage to the heart valves.

A cardiac cough can also be seen in those who have suffered from a heart attack.

Another characteristic cause of heart failure is muscle loading. If you have a predisposition to heart diseases, stress on the myocardium and blood vessels can lead to heart failure and accompanying symptoms.

According to the article by James H. Currens,a cough with heart failure is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • A dry cough. If there is a violation of the blood supply, there is no excretion of pus or sputum. In severe cases, expectoration of blood may be observed.
  • Pain when lying down. As soon as you lie down, you may feel a strong desire to cough accompanied by pain. Therefore, those suffering from this pathology sleep in a semi-sitting position.
  • Bloating of veins. When coughing, a venous induration on the neck is associated with weak circulation of blood.
  • Pain and an increased heart rate. Attacks of a cardiac cough are accompanied by a characteristic pain and palpitations.
  • A headache and loss of consciousness. A disturbance of blood supply during coughing can cause dizziness, and in more severe cases, lead to fainting.

These symptoms of a cardiac cough are quite individual and, in some cases, may not manifest. The degree of expression depends on the nature and form of the disease.

According to the article by The British Journal of General Practicedyspnea is also one of the most common symptoms of heart disease associated with lung function.It is manifested already in the early stages of the illness. You can often notice that people begin to cough during physical or emotional stress. This is what a cardiac cough is.

How to distinguish a cardiac cough from a pulmonary cough

To distinguish a cardiac cough from a pulmonary cough, you need to pay attention to the symptoms and other signs.

Signs of a heart cough:

  • A complete absence of sputum and other accompanying secretions
  • It is manifested in a particular position of the body or under physical exertion
  • It is always accompanied by symptoms of heart failure.

Signs of a pulmonary cough:

  • It is often wet and accompanied by regular expectoration of mucus
  • It occurs throughout the day, regardless of the activity or position of the body
  • You can remove the symptom within a few days without full treatment of the disease
  • It is accompanied by signs of viral or inflammatory diseases such as fever or a running nose.

Treatment of a chronic cough

Treatment of a chronic cough is based on the nature and form of the disease that causes it, and can be:

  • Medicinal
  • Surgical

Each type of treatment has its advantages and disadvantages. Your doctor will draw up a treatment plan and prescribe drugs or procedures that will help recovery.


1. James Currens, Paul White, “Cough as a symptom of cardiovascular disease”. Ann Intern Med. 30(3):528-543. Original Research: March 1, 1949.

2. Stefan Bösner, Annette Becker, “Accuracy of symptoms and signs for coronary heart disease assessed in primary care”. British Journal of General Practice. 60(575): e246–e257. June 1, 2010.