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Respiratory patterns

Type/pattern Rate Clinical significance
(breaths per minute)
Eupnea 16-20 Normal
Tachypnea Respiratory failure
Response to fever
Shortness of breath
Respiratory infection
Bradypnea Sleep
Respiratory depression
Drug overdose
Central nervous system
(CNS) lesion
Apnea Periods of no May be intermittent such
respiration as in sleep apnea
lasting 15 Respiratory arrest
Hyperpnea 16-20 Can result from anxiety
or response to pain
Can cause marked
respiratory alkalosis,
paresthesia, tetany,
Kussmaul’s Usually 35; Tachypnea pattern
may be slow associated with
or normal diabetic ketoacidosis,
metabolic acidosis, or
renal failure
Cheyne-Stokes Variable Crescendo-decrescendo
pattern caused by
alterations in acid base
status. Underlying
metabolic problem or
neurocerebral insult
Biot’s Variable Periods of apnea and
shallow breathing
caused by CNS
disorder; found in
some healthy clients
Apneustic Increased Increased inspiratory
time with short
grunting expiratory
time; seen in CNS
lesions of the
respiratory center
Excerpted from Mosby's Medical Encyclopedia
Copyright (c) 1994-5, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company Inc. All Rights Reserved