Heart support group meets

It’s the seat of romantic love; the redoubt of passions; home and hearth to the soul ... as well as the most basic organ keeping us alive from moment to moment.

When the heart is not operating at its full potential, it can change the lifestyle, sometimes drastically.

The Silverdale support group for people with heart problems, “Heartbeats,” meets at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Harrison Silverdale, in the Iris Room. The group ranges from a handful, to perhaps twice that, and is mostly composed of men — along with their wives.

Contrary to the stereotype, these are not corpulent men. They are slender, mostly senior citizens. Some suffer only angina, or chest pain; others have had multiple bypass surgeries.

They are all trying to live with an often frustrating condition. A condition that limits how much activity they can do.

Eric Anderson, technical director of respiratory care at Harrison Silverdale, gave the group a visit last month to teach breathing exercises.

“One of the things we teach is pursed-lip breathing,” he said. “It’s used by highly trained athletes, but was found to be very useful for heart patients as well.”

He explained that the technique helps improve gas exchange in the lungs. It trains the individual to take twice as much time to exhale as it does to inhale.

“The back-pressure created when you purse your lips to breath out, allows your lungs more time to absorb more of the oxygen you breath in,” he said. “You can only breath in so much. There comes a point when you’re breathing in-and-out so fast (during exercise) that you’re getting very little oxygen and building up carbon dioxide.”

Carbon dioxide and water vapor are the waste products ejected by the lungs.

He told the men that if they feel breathless, which is a situation that occurs often among heart patients, they should also use the stomach to breath, not the chest or shoulders.

“Dropping your stomach, breathing with your stomach, allows more room for the lungs to expand.” This is called diaphragmatic breathing.

He said one can pace oneself on a walk by walking two steps breathing in, then four steps breathing out. This can be done outdoors in nice weather, or on a treadmill at the local gym.

“They use these breathing techniques while climbing mountains, such as Mount Rainier — the results are amazing,” he said.

Call Silverdale Harrison at (360) 337-8800 for more information.

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