moistness or dryness, can also be conveniently
determined at this time.
Pulse.When taking a patients pulse, you should
be concerned with two factors: rate and character. For
pulse rate, you will have to determine the number of
beats per minute. Pulse rate is classified as normal,
rapid, or slow.
A normal pulse rate for adults is
between 60 to 80 beats per minute. Any pulse rate
above 100 beats per minute is rapid (tachycardia),
while a rate below 60 beats per minute is slow
NOTE: An athlete may have a normal at-rest
pulse rate between 40 and 50 beats per
minute. This is a slow pulse rate, but is not an
indication of poor health.
Pulse character is the rhythm and force of the
Pulse rhythm is evaluated as regular or
irregular. When intervals between beats are constant,
the pulse is regular, and when intervals are not
constant, the pulse is described as irregular.
force refers to the pressure of the pulse wave as it
expands the artery. Pulse force is determined as full or
thready. A full pulse feels as if a strong wave has
passed under your fingertips. When the pulse feels
weak and thin, the pulse is described as thready.
The pulse rate and character can be determined at a
number of points throughout the body.
common site to determine a patients pulse is the
radial pulse. The radial pulse (wrist pulse) is named
after the radial artery found in the lateral aspect of the
Respiration.Respiration is the act of breathing.
A single breath is the complete process of breathing in
(inhalation) followed by breathing out (exhalation).
When observing respiration in connection to vital
signs, you should be concerned with two factors: rate
Respiration rate is the number of breaths a patient
takes in 1 minute. The rate of respiration is classified
as normal, rapid, or slow. The normal respiration rate
for an adult at rest is 12 to 20 breaths per minute. A
rapid respiration rate is more than 28 respirations per
minute, and a slow respiration rate is less than 10
breaths per minute. A rapid or slow respiration rate
indicates the patient is in need of immediate medical
attention and should be transported to a medical
treatment facility as soon as possible.
Respiration character includes rhythm, depth,
ease of breathing, and sound.
refers to the manner in which a person breathes.
Respiration rhythm is classified as regular or irregular.
A regular rhythm is when the interval between breaths
is constant, and an irregular rhythm is when the
interval between breaths varies.
Respiration depth refers to the amount of air
moved between each breath.
Respiration depth is
classified as normal, deep, or shallow.
Ease of breathing can be judged while you are
judging depth. Ease of breathing may be judged as
labored, difficult, or painful.
Sounds of respiration include snoring ,
wheezing, crowing (birdlike sounds), and gurgling
(sounds like breaths are passing through water).
You should count respirations as soon as you have
determined the pulse rate. Count the number of breaths
taken by the patient during 30 seconds and multiply by
2 to obtain the breaths per minute. While you are
counting breaths, note the rhythm, depth, ease of
breathing, and sounds of respiration.
Blood Pressure.The measurement of the pressure
blood exerts against the wall of blood vessels is known as
blood pressure. The pressure created in the arteries when
the heart pumps blood out into circulation (heart beat) is
called the systolic blood pressure.
remaining in the arteries when the heart is relaxed
(between beats) is called the diastolic blood pressure.
The systolic pressure is always reported first and the
diastolic pressure second (e.g., 120 over 80).
Blood pressure varies from one person to another
and is measured with a stethoscope and a
sphygmomanometer (BP cuff). Low blood pressure
(hypotension) is considered to exist when the systolic
pressure falls below 90 millimeters of mercury (mm
Hg) and/or the diastolic falls below 60. Millimeters
of mercury refers to the units of the BP cuffs gauge.
High blood pressure (hypertension) exists once the
pressure rises above 150/90 mm Hg. Keep in mind that
patients may exhibit a temporary rise in blood pressure
during emergency situations. More than one reading
will be necessary to determine if a high or low reading
is only temporary. If a patients blood pressure drops,
the patient may be going into shock. You should report
major changes in blood pressure immediately to
medical facility personnel.
Te m p e r a t u re . B o d y t e m p e r a t u r e s a r e
determined by the measurement of oral, rectal, axillary