Hyperventilation Syndrome



  • Hyperventilation syndrome describes a constellation of symptoms:
    • Most commonly: Dyspnea, chest pain, lightheadedness, and paresthesias
  • Produced by a nonphysiologic increase in minute ventilation:
    • Minute ventilation may be increased by increasing respiratory rate or tidal volume (sighs)
  • Pathologic or physiologic causes of hyperventilation must be excluded before the diagnosis of hyperventilation syndrome can be assigned
  • Prevalence:
    • 10–15% in the general population
    • May be more common in women
    • 25–83% in patients with an anxiety disorder


  • Usually a response to psychological stressors
  • Etiology of symptoms is unclear
  • Underlying disorders that may contribute to hyperventilation:
    • Hypocapnia
    • Hypophosphatemia
    • Hypocalcemia

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