Why Are Some Heart Attacks Preceded by Coughing?

I apologize to all of the hypochondriacs out there in advance. I’ve highlighted a sentence in the off-chance I can keep you from panicking. This should only be a concern if you have been given prior reason to worry and this is a trend of coughing.

What Is Cardiac Cough Like?

Coughing that is caused by heart failure can take several forms. A wet cough producing frothy sputum that may be tinged pink with blood is quite common with heart failure. Heavy wheezing and labored breathing can also accompany spells of coughing, along with a bubbling feeling in the chest, or even a whistling sound from the lungs.

Impressive coughing symptoms like this are usually a sign that the heart failure has become substantially worse, and indeed such coughing is usually accompanied by a general flare-up of heart failure symptoms. These symptoms are likely to include dyspnea, orthopnea, edema, and even paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (waking up in from sleep in the middle of the night, gasping and coughing). People who have this severe form of cardiac cough are generally sick enough to seek medical help without much prompting.

Cardiac cough can also take a much less severe form. Some people with heart failure will develop an annoying, more chronic, drier cough that may produce a small amount of white or pink frothy mucus. Some who have this less severe form of cardiac cough may write it off as being due to some other cause and may fail to seek medical assistance.

If they delay seeing a doctor, however, symptoms of heart failure are likely to become substantially worse before too long. So anyone who has been told they have heart failure should never ignore the onset of cough—even if they consider it to be pretty mild.



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