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orthopnea, orthopnea meaning
Orthopnea or orthopnoea is shortness of breath dyspnea that occurs when lying flat,1 causing the person to have to sleep propped up in bed or sitting in a chair It is commonly seen as a late manifestation of heart failure, resulting from fluid redistribution into the central circulation, causing an increase in pulmonary capillary pressure It is also seen in cases of abdominal obesity or pulmonary disease2 Orthopnea is the opposite of platypnea, shortness of breath that worsens when sitting or standing up


  • 1 Causes
  • 2 Etymology and pronunciation
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References


Orthopnea is due to increased distribution of blood to the pulmonary circulation while recumbent,3 but usually can be attributed to a more fundamental cause

Orthopnea is often a symptom of left ventricular heart failure and/or pulmonary edema43 It can also occur in those with asthma and chronic bronchitis, as well as those with sleep apnea or panic disordercitation needed It is also associated with polycystic liver diseasecitation needed From a neuromuscular perspective, orthopnea is a sign of severe diaphragmatic weakness Under such circumstances, patients may describe shortness of breath when they bend over eg when tying shoelaces

Etymology and pronunciationedit

The word orthopnea uses combining forms of ortho- + -pnea, from Greek ortho, straight, regular, + pnoia, breath See pronunciation information at dyspnea

See alsoedit

  • Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnoea
  • Trepopnea


  1. ^ "orthopnea" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  2. ^ Anthony Fauci, Eugene Braunwald, Dennis Kasper, Stephen Hauser, Dan Longo, J Jameson, Joseph Loscalzo, 2008 Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th ed McGraw-Hill ISBN 9780071466332 p1446
  3. ^ a b Mukerji, Vaskar 1990 "Dyspnea, Orthopnea, and Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea" In Walker, H Kenneth; Hall, W Dallas; Hurst, J Willis Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations 3rd ed Butterworths ISBN 0-407-02853-6 Retrieved 2009-03-14 
  4. ^ Torchio R, Gulotta C, Greco-Lucchina P, et al August 2006 "Orthopnea and tidal expiratory flow limitation in chronic heart failure" Chest 130 2: 472–9 PMID 16899847 doi:101378/chest1302472 

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