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How can a cough inform a doctor about your heart condition?

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Quick Answer

Doctors can use coughing to help diagnose a heart condition because lung congestion is a symptom of heart failure, according to WebMD. The cough does not go away and is often accompanied by white or pinkish bloody mucus, states the American Heart Association.

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Full Answer

Heart failure means that the organ is unable to fully perform its circulatory functions, reports the AHA. The pulmonary veins bring oxygenated blood from the lungs back to the heart. However, this blood flow becomes backed up if the heart is unable to beat hard and fast enough to deal with it. Fluid leaks into the lungs, causing congestion. People with congestive heart failure often have persistent coughs that try to clear out the lungs.

Coughing is just one of the symptoms that suggest heart failure. Because of the lung congestion, difficulty breathing and wheezing also occur, the AHA notes. People experience all-over fatigue because the heart is not delivering enough nutrients and oxygen to the body. The digestive system is shortchanged, which leads to appetite loss and nausea.

With heart failure, levels of blood chemicals are thrown off, and this interferes with brain function, observes the AHA. Consequently, patients do not think clearly and become confused. Also, heart rate speeds up because the organ is trying to compensate for circulating insufficient quantities of blood.

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