Orthopnea: If this happens to you when you lie down, you should be worried

Heart problems should never be taken lightly and you should seek advice if this happens to you when you lie down.

During the day, most of us can’t help but sneak in a little lie down—either on the couch or on our beds. While this is a rather harmless action, sometimes this horizontal position is accompanied by breathlessness even when the body has not been subjected to any form of physical exercise.

Breathlessness while lying down

Now generally, you’re more likely to feel out of breath after you’ve exerted energy through physical activity. After weight training, running, or even walking up six flights of stairs with a couple of grocery bags. In times like these, it’s completely normal to experience breathlessness. But, what is not normal is to feel that way when you’re lying down. Medically, this is a condition called orthopnea.

What is orthopnea?

According to the definition from L’Académie de Médecine, it is a ‘respiratory discomfort linked to lying down, obliging the patient to remain seated or standing… it is often of cardiac origin, testifying to a left ventricular insufficiency.’

Passeport Santé notes that one of the main causes of this disorder is ‘increased pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs.' They add:

In the lying position, the pulmonary alveoli are invaded by plasma.

This is what causes the sensation of respiratory discomfort. Other causes include asthma and chronic bronchitis.

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What are the side effects of orthopnea?

On a day to day basis, people suffering from this condition often find themselves waking up in the middle of the night, with an inability to breathe. As reported by the specialist media Health Digest, this symptom can lead to other more serious heart problems and it is therefore of the utmost importance that they seek medical guidance as quickly as possible.

This article has been translated from Gentside FR.

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