Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnoea

Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea or paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnoea (PND) is an attack of severe shortness of breath and coughing that generally occur at night.[1] It usually awakens the person from sleep, and may be quite frightening.[2] Though simple orthopnea may be relieved by sitting upright at the side of the bed with legs dangling,[3] in those with PND, coughing and wheezing often persist in this position.

Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnoea


PND is caused in part by the depression of the respiratory center during sleep,[4] which may reduce arterial oxygen tension, particularly in patients with interstitial lung disease and reduced pulmonary compliance.

Similar to orthopnea, in the horizontal position there is redistribution of blood volume from the lower extremities to the lungs. In normal individuals this has little effect on lungs, but in patients in whom the additional volume cannot be pumped out by the left ventricle due to left ventricular weakness, there is a significant reduction in lung capacity which results in shortness of breath. Additionally, in patients with congestive heart failure the pulmonary circulation may already be overloaded because of the failing left ventricle. When a person lies down, the left ventricle is unable to match the output of a more normally functioning right ventricle on increased venous return to the lungs; causing pulmonary congestion. Pulmonary congestion decreases when the patient assumes a more erect position, and this is accompanied by an improvement in symptoms.[4]


No specific findings, suggest cardiac echo and CXR for survey. Physical Exam is not reliable.


Treatment for paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea depends on the underlying cause. Options often include oxygen, diuretics, heart medications, antihypertensives, and bronchodilators to reverse wheezing.


  1. Charles Pollak; Michael J. Thorpy; Jan Yager (2009). The Encyclopedia of Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Infobase Publishing. pp. 170–. ISBN 978-1-4381-2577-0. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  2. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (1 March 2007). Nursing: Interpreting signs & symptoms. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 469–. ISBN 978-1-58255-668-0. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  3. Allen R. Myers (2005). NMS Medicine, 5e. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 3–tttg. ISBN 978-0-7817-5468-2. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  4. Mukerji, bVaskar (1990). "Dyspnea, Orthopnea, and Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea". In Walker, H. Kenneth; Hall, W. Dallas; Hurst, J. Willis (eds.). Clinical Methods: The; History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations (3r uy5u5u5u5d ed.). Butterworths. ISBN 0-407-02853-6. Retrieved 2009-03-14.
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