What do you need to consider when helping a patient with shortness of breath sit out in a chair?

  • They shouldn’t sit out in a chair; lying flat is the only position for someone with shortness of breath so that there are no negative effects of gravity putting pressure on the lungs.

  • Sitting in a reclining position with the legs elevated toreduce the use of postural muscle oxygen requirements, increasing lung volumes and optimizing perfusion for the best V/Q ratio. The patient should also be kept in an environment that is quiet so they don’t expend any unnecessary energy.

  • The patient needs to be able to sit in a forward leaning position supported by pillows. They may also need access to a nebulizer and humidified oxygen so they must be in a position where this is accessible without being a risk to others.

  • There are two possible positions, either sitting upright or side lying. Which is used is determined by the age of the patient. It is also important to remember that they will always need a nebulizer and oxygen and the air temperature must be below 20° C