Pathophysiology of dyspnoea

Dyspnoea can be characterised as an abnormal and uncomfortable subjective awareness of the effort of breathing. The underlying causative factors include: Increase in the mechanical work of breathing: Increased airway resistance; Chest wall muscle dysfunction;

Reduced pulmonary compliance: oedema, fibrosis, congestion. Increase in ventilatory drive:

Chemical stimuli: hypoxia; metabolic acidosis;

Primary central nervous stimuli, which may be voluntary or involuntary; Sensory stimuli, from the chest wall, arteries and veins, or lung interstitium.

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