Primary Hyperventilation in the Emergency Department: A First Overview.

Pfortmüller, Carmen; Pauchard-Neuwerth, Sandra Elisabeth; Leichtle, Alexander Benedikt; Fiedler, Martin; Exadaktylos, Aristomenis; Lindner, Gregor (2015). Primary Hyperventilation in the Emergency Department: A First Overview. PLoS ONE, 10(6), e0129562. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0129562

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Primary hyperventilation is defined as a state of alveolar ventilation in excess of metabolic requirements, leading to decreased arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide. The primary aim of this study was to characterise patients diagnosed with primary hyperventilation in the ED.


Our retrospective cohort study comprised adult (≥16 years) patients admitted to our ED between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2012 with the primary diagnosis of primary (=psychogenic) hyperventilation.


A total of 616 patients were eligible for study. Participants were predominantely female (341 [55.4%] female versus 275 [44.6%] male respectively, p <0.01). The mean age was 36.5 years (SD 15.52, range 16-85). Patients in their twenties were the most common age group (181, 29.4%), followed by patients in their thirties (121, 19.6%). Most patients presented at out-of-office hours (331 [53.7%]. The most common symptom was fear (586, 95.1%), followed by paraesthesia (379, 61.5%) and dizziness (306, 49.7%). Almost a third (187, 30.4%) of our patients had previously experienced an episode of hyperventilation and half (311, 50.5%) of patients had a psychiatric co-morbidity.


Hyperventilation is a diagnostic chimera with a wide spectrum of symptoms. Patients predominantly are of young age, female sex and often have psychiatric comorbidities. The severity of symptoms accompanied with primary hyperventilation most often needs further work-up to rule out other diagnosis in a mostly young population. In the future, further prospective multicentre studies are needed to evaluate and establish clear diagnostic criteria for primary hyperventilation and possible screening instruments.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of General Internal Medicine (DAIM) > Clinic of General Internal Medicine > Centre of Competence for General Internal Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Intensive Care, Emergency Medicine and Anaesthesiology (DINA) > Clinic of Intensive Care
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Intensive Care, Emergency Medicine and Anaesthesiology (DINA) > University Emergency Center
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Haematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Medicine and Hospital Pharmacy (DOLS) > Institute of Clinical Chemistry

UniBE Contributor:

Pfortmüller, Carmen, Leichtle, Alexander Benedikt (B), Fiedler, Georg Martin, Exadaktylos, Aristomenis, Lindner, Gregor


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Public Library of Science




Marie-Christine Müller

Date Deposited:

23 Feb 2016 09:26

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:27

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