Peak flow measurements, peak expiratory flow rate (PEF)

DEFINITION:
This is a basic procedure using a peak flow meter in order to assess how fast and how much you can breathe out. It is also used to extrapolate lung capacity. It is a procedure used by patients with COPD or asthma suffers to monitor their lung performance. Also referred to as a test for lung capacity and forced expiratory volume.

TEST PROCEDURE:
Get the patient to sit upright. Explain the procedure well. Reset the pointer to zero. Ensure you use a clean mouthpiece. Ask the patient to hold the meter horizontal avoiding touching the pointer. Get them to take a huge breath in and then to blow out as fast and as hard they can ensuring the form a good seal with their lips around the mouth piece.

TEST FINDINGS:
Repeat the procedure three times and record the highest reading. Take into consideration age, size of thorax and gender. Generally speaking a measurement of 400-600 (litres per minute) may be considered as normal.

CONSIDERATIONS:
Peak flow measurement is very technique dependant. The patient needs to understand exactly how to use the device and the effort exerted will influence readings. Spirometry measurement are more reliable methods for assessing lung capacity and performance.

(Full details and demonstration of the procedure is provided with the DVD/videos and associated study material)