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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1998 Jul;158(1):23-7.

The rise and dwell time for peak expiratory flow in patients with and without airflow limitation.

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Department of Medicine, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.


The response of peak expiratory flow (PEF) meters may be affected by the magnitude of PEF, the time taken to get to PEF, and the duration that the peak is sustained. We undertook a retrospective study to define the 10 to 90% rise time (RT) and dwell time for flow above 90% (DT90) and 95% (DT95) of PEF. Blows were analyzed that had been recorded using a pneumotachograph from 912 patients older than 17 yr of age (556 men) who routinely attended a lung function laboratory. For each subject, that blow with the largest PEF was used to derive the PEF, FEV1, FVC, RT, DT90, and DT95. The values for RT, DT90, and DT95 were negatively skewed with the median values for men of 58, 29, and 19 ms, respectively, being significantly shorter than those for the women of 67, 49, and 31 ms. From the 912 subjects, there were 277 (153 men) who had all their spirometric indices within the normal range, and 305 (220 men) had both PEF and FEV1 more than 1. 645 SD below predicted, indicating airflow limitation. For subjects with airflow limitation the median RT was significantly smaller than in the normal subjects (men: 46 versus 72 ms, women: 50 versus 72 ms), and the same was found for DT90 (men: 22 versus 40 ms, women: 27 versus 56 ms) and DT95 (men: 15 versus 26 ms, women: 18 versus 34 ms). We conclude that the dwell times for PEF are shorter in men, and the rise and dwell times are shorter in patients with airflow limitation. Profiles used to test PEF meters should encompass the range of rise and dwell times found in subjects most likely to be using PEF meters, that is, those with airflow limitation.

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