Shortness of breath while lying down or that occurs after several
hours of sleep can be a sign of heart failure. Shortness of breath may be a
result of buildup of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema).
When a person is standing or sitting upright, gravity helps keep the
lung area relatively free of excess fluid. The effect of gravity is lost and
fluid can easily build up in the lungs when a person lies down.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump blood effectively to the lungs or the rest of the body.
This can be because the person has developed a weakened heart muscle or because the heart muscle has thickened, making it difficult to fill the heart and backing up blood into the lungs.
With heart failure, the weakened heart pumps less blood than usual, causing the kidneys and adrenal glands to produce chemicals that help the body to hold onto salt and water.
In addition, the blood...
In heart failure, the heart is not able to handle the increased
volume of returning blood. When lying down, fluid from the backed-up blood
collects in the lungs, causing shortness of breath or a feeling of
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
George Philippides, MD - Cardiology
July 28, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
July 28, 2010
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