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Classification and external resources
Specialty Cardiology
ICD-10 R06.0
ICD-9-CM 786.02

Orthopnea or orthopnoea (Greek from ortho, straight + pnoia, breath) is shortness of breath (dyspnea) which occurs when lying flat,[1] causing the person to have to sleep propped up in bed or sitting in a chair. It is the opposite of platypnea. 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 disease.[2]


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 edema.[4][5] It can also occur in those with asthma and chronic bronchitis, as well as those with sleep apnea or panic disorder.[citation needed] It is also associated with polycystic liver disease.[citation 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 (e.g. when tying shoelaces).

See also[edit]


  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. p.1446
  3. ^ "Dyspnea, Orthopnea, and Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea -- Clinical Methods -- NCBI Bookshelf". 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. doi:10.1378/chest.130.2.472. PMID 16899847. 
  5. ^ Walker, H. Kenneth; Vaskar Mukerji (1990). Clinical Methods. Butterworths. ISBN 0-407-02853-6. Retrieved 2009-01-16.