ICD-10 R06.0
ICD-9 786.02

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.

From Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th ed., page 1446: "Orthopnea is usually a later manifestation of heart failure (HF) than is exertional dyspnea. It results from the redistribution of fluid from the splanchnic circulation and lower extremities into the central circulation during recumbency, with a resultant increase in pulmonary capillary pressure. Nocturnal cough is a frequent manifestation of this process and a frequently overlooked symptom of HF. Orthopnea is generally relieved by sitting upright or by sleeping with additional pillows. Although orthopnea is a relatively specific symptom of HF, it may occur in patients with abdominal obesity or ascites and in patients with pulmonary disease whose lung mechanics favor an upright posture."

It is commonly measured according to the number of pillows needed to prop the patient up to enable breathing (Example: "3 pillow orthopnea").[citation needed]


Orthopnea is due to increased distribution of blood to the pulmonary circulation while recumbent,[2] but usually can be attributed to a more fundamental cause.

Orthopnea is often a symptom of left ventricular heart failure and/or pulmonary edema.[3][4] 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]

See also


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • orthopnea — orthopneic, orthopnoeic, adj. /awr thop nee euh, awr thop nee euh, theuhp /, n. Path. difficult or painful breathing except in an erect sitting or standing position. Also, orthopnoea. [1650 60; < Gk orthópnoia, equiv. to orthópno(os) breathing… …   Universalium

  • Orthopnea — The inability to breathe easily unless one is sitting up straight or standing erect. * * * Discomfort in breathing that is brought on or aggravated by lying flat. Cf.:platypnea. [ortho + G. pnoe, a breathing] * * * or·thop·nea or chiefly Brit… …   Medical dictionary

  • orthopnea — n. shortness of breath (except when in an upright position) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • orthopnea — or·thop·nea …   English syllables

  • orthopnea — noun form of dyspnea in which the person can breathe comfortably only when standing or sitting erect; associated with asthma and emphysema and angina pectoris • Hypernyms: ↑dyspnea, ↑dyspnoea * * * orthopneic, orthopnoeic, adj. /awr thop nee euh …   Useful english dictionary

  • orthopnea position — the patient either sits upright in a chair or assumes an upright or semivertical position by using two or more pillows to support the head and chest from the recumbent position; used for a patient with orthopnea (difficulty breathing except in… …   Medical dictionary

  • two-pillow orthopnea — orthopnea that is relieved by elevating the head and chest from the recumbent position by the use of two pillows; see also orthopnea position, under position …   Medical dictionary

  • pimelorthopnea — Orthopnea; difficulty breathing in any but the erect posture, due to obesity. SYN: piorthopnea. [pimelo + G. orthos, straight, + pnoe, breath] * * * pim·el·or·thop·nea (pim″əl or″thop neґə) [pimel + orthopnea] dyspnea while… …   Medical dictionary

  • Heart failure — Classification and external resources The major signs and symptoms of heart failure. ICD 10 I5 …   Wikipedia

  • Orthopnoea — SignSymptom infobox Name = PAGENAME Caption = DiseasesDB = ICD10 = ICD10|R|06|0|r|06 ICD9 = ICD9|786.02 ICDO = OMIM = MedlinePlus = eMedicineSubj = eMedicineTopic = MeshName = MeshNumber = Orthopnea (Greek from ortho , straight + pnoia , breath)… …   Wikipedia

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