Here is a roundup of the articles, news & updates that we've published on the PERF blog site during the past month. Click on the "Read More" link at the bottom of each excerpt to read the full article.
Altitude, Oxygen Levels and Oximetry
Summer vacations are upon us and some of you have expressed concerns about going to higher altitudes, either by flying, or by driving up to the mountains. You may remember that as you ascend in altitude you take in less oxygen with each breath, because the air pressure decreases, making the air “thinner” than at sea level.. That means that your arterial blood oxygen, and your oxygen saturation, also decrease. Pulmonary patients, who already have low blood oxygen at sea level, may have a problem at altitudes as low as 3,000 feet where barometric pressure is 10% lower than at sea level. (Remember that planes are pressurized at about 5,000 to 8,000 feet and occasionally even higher!)
Using Your Own Oximeter To Measure Oxygen Saturation
Many patients, who have gone through pulmonary rehab programs and gotten sophisticated about understanding the importance of their oxygen saturation, purchase their own oximeter. If you obtain your doctor’s prescription, you should be able to deduct it from your income tax. On rare occasions, an insurance company will reimburse the purchase cost if you get a prescription. It is worth checking on. However, many oximeters are now available in sports stores or online.
Breathing Techniques With COPD
Those of you with restrictive disease will find that your oxygen saturations may plummet with activity if you don’t carefully pace yourself and practice good breathing techniques. If you have COPD, when you breathe slowly, breathe out longer than you breathe in. Using good pursed-lip breathing (PLB) can make the difference between a normal and an abnormal oximetry reading. If you have a form of restrictive disease, you may need to try different breathing techniques to see what works best for you. Slowing your breathing helps, and using PLB slowly usually helps also.
In a letter by Thomas Petty, MD, Former PERF Executive Vice President, he writes:
Dear Friends –
The aging process is of great interest to scientists and to all of us. The process is complex, a function of all higher animals. There is an internal “clock” that determines the length of life for all species. Not the exact length, but a range. In general, all animal groups die in about six times the interval between birth and maturity. In humans maturity is complete about aged 20. Thus the extremes of life may be near 120 years. Indeed there is one well documented person who lived to age 122. Sixty-five people in the world have good proof that they are 110 or more.
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