Orthopnea is a term that is used to describe dyspnea (breathlessness) when an individual is laying flat on their back. This also means that the affected person will have to sleep propped up using multiple pillows or sitting up in a chair. Orthopnea is commonly seen among those with heart failure. it occurs due to the redistribution of fluid into the central circulation (reduced pooling of blood in the lower extremities and flowing into the thoracic compartment) resulting in an increase in pulmonary capillary pressure.
Orthopnea is most commonly a symptom of pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) or left ventricular heart failure. It may also occur in those with excessive abdominal obesity, chronic bronchitis, asthma, panic disorder, and sleep apnea.
1. Symptoms of Left Ventricular Heart Failure
Since orthopnea is most commonly seen among patients with left ventricular heart failure, some of the other symptoms that the individual may experience include exertional dyspnea (breathlessness with mild activity), paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (sudden awakening after a few hours of sleep due to breathlessness, suffocation, and anxiety) breathlessness at rest, palpitations, chest pain, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, loss of weight, decreased urine output, confusion, and memory impairment.