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WHAT ARE VITAL SIGNS?

• Homeostasis: a state of equilibrium within the body maintained


through the adaptation of body systems to changes in either the
internal and external environment.
• When injury/illness occurs the body’s ability to maintain
homeostasis is impaired – which will show in a person’s Vital
Signs.
• Vital Signs: Assessment of pulse, respiration, blood pressure, and
temperature.
• Important for health care providers to know what are normal and
abnormal vital signs.
FOUR MAIN VITAL SIGNS

• Body • Thermometer
Temperature • Stethoscope or
• Pulse Palpation
• Sphygmomanomet
• Blood Pressure er
• Respirations • Watch or Clock
PULSE
• Blood vessels expand and contract every time the heart beats.
• Blood flows though the vessels and waves of blood cause a
rhythmic “thumping” in the arteries.
• A pulse can only be felt in an artery because arteries are the vessels
that carry blood away from the heart to the rest of the body.
• Pulse: a vital sign; a measurement of the heart beat using the
fingers to palpate an artery or a stethoscope to listen to the
heartbeat.
• A pulse tells us how often the heart beats. PULSE
• A change in pulse indicates a change in a patient’s status. (Ex: Rapid
but weak = shock, Absence = cardiac arrest)
• Most common place to take a pulse is at the radial or carotid pulse.
NORMAL PULSE RANGES
• Pulse rates vary depending on: age, size of patient, physical
condition.
• Recorded in beats per minute (bpm).

• Adult = 60 – 100 bpm


• Well Conditioned Athlete = 50 – 60 bpm (Because the heart
muscles receive more exercise)
• Babies to age 1: 100 – 160 bpm
• Children ages 1 – 10: 60 – 140 bpm
• Children ages 11 – 17: 60 – 100 bpm
PULSE
• Tachycardia: Pulse rates higher than normal (Above 100 in adults)
• Bradycardia: Pulse rates lower than normal (Below 60 in adults;
different for well conditioned athletes)
• Rhythm of pulse – regular (doesn’t change) or irregular (speeds up
and/or slows down).
• Strength or quality of pulse – weak or strong.
• When noting pulse rate on a medical form indicate:
1. Rate – (Ex: 65 bpm)
2. Regularity of rhythm
3. Strength or Quality
MEASURING PULSE
• Place the patient’s hand in a resting position on a surface palm up.
• Feel along the inside of the wrist with your fingertips, locating the
radial pulse below the thumb.
• Do not use your thumb, as it has a pulse of its own.
• Look at your watch or clock and find a starting point.
• Count the beats you feel for 30 seconds and then multiply by 2.
• If the pulse is irregular, count for a full minute and don’t multiply.
RADIAL PULSE
• Record your own radial pulse.
• Take turns and record your partner’s radial pulse.
MEASURING A CAROTID
PULSE
• Use the pads of your first two fingers, and place them directly over one
side of the front of the patient’s neck.
MEASURING A CAROTID
PULSE
• Find your own carotid pulse.
• Count the beats that you feel underneath of your finger tips for 30
seconds and multiply by two.
• Record your partner’s carotid pulse rate.
RESPIRATION
• Respiration: Breathing; the process of bringing oxygen into the body
and expelling carbon dioxide from the body.
• Oxygen is brought into the body to be utilized by cells.
• Carbon dioxide is expelled because it is a waste product of the cells.
• If breathing patterns are altered and the body is deprived of oxygen,
serious damage can occur to the vital organs.
• Absence of respiration indicates a blocked airway or death.
RESPIRATION
• Respiration = consists of one inspiration and one expiration.

• Age 15 and older: 15 to 20 breaths per minute


• A well conditioned athlete: 6 – 8 breaths per minute
RESPIRATION PATTERNS
• Abdominal: respirations using primarily the abdominal muscles while
the chest is mostly still
• Apnea: stopped breathing – temporary or permanent
• Bradypnea: abnormally slow breathing
• Cheyne-Stokes respiration: irregular breathing pattern of periods of
apnea lasting 10-60 seconds followed by periods of fast and slow
breathing
• Decreased: very little air movement in the lungs
• Dyspnea: difficult or painful breathing; shortness of breath
• Hyperpnea or tachypnea: breathing that is faster or deeper;
hyperventilation
• Kussmaul’s breathing: deep, gasping respirations
• Labored breathing: difficult breathing that uses shoulder muscles, neck
muscles, and abdominal muscles.
MEASURING
RESPIRATIONS
• When a person focuses on their breathing pattern, the rate of
respirations is often altered.
• Therefore, it is best to not tell a patient you are watching their
breathing pattern.
• Look at your watch and find a starting point.
• Count each time the patient’s chest rises and falls = 1 single
respiration.
• Count respirations for 30 seconds and multiply by 2.
• If breathing is irregular, count for a full minute
BLOOD PRESSURE
• Blood Pressure (BP): the
measurement of the pressure
exerted by the circulating blood
against the walls of the arteries.
• Systolic Pressure: the top
number of your BP. The BP
when the heart contracts.
• Diastolic Pressure: the bottom
number of your BP. The BP
when your heart is at rest.
BLOOD PRESSURE
• BP is affected by several factors:
• Condition of the arteries and the force of the heartbeat.
• Age, exercise, obesity, food, pain, stress, stimulants, medications.
• Gender and heredity can influences a person’s BP.
• Although BP increases with exercise, it helps to lower overall BP
because the heart becomes strong and healthy.
• An unhealthy person’s heart has to work harder to circulate blood
throughout the body.
• Abnormal BP is a sign of various health problems.
ABNORMAL
• A systolic value below 100 or above 139
BP
• A diastolic value below 65 or above 89
• Implications:
• Hypotension: Low BP; may indicate shock, dehydration, or
internal injury.
• Hypertension: High BP; can exert extreme pressure on blood
vessels, can lead to cardiac problems and strokes.
• Possible causes – obesity, lack of exercise, too much salt in
diet, and stress.
HOW TO MEASURE BP
1. Ask the patient to roll their
sleeve about 6 inches above
the elbow.
2. Have them extend their arm,
palm up, at heart level.
3. Place the BP Cuff securely
around the arm, 2 inches
above the bend in the elbow.
4. Be sure that the arrow on the
BP cuff is placed over the
brachial artery.
HOW TO MEASURE BP
5. Place the earpieces of the
stethoscope in your ears with the
tips pointing slightly forward.
6. Place the diaphragm of the
stethoscope over the brachial
pulse at the bottom of the BP cuff.
7. Hold the diaphragm with you
non-dominant hand.
8. Close the control valve.
9. Quickly squeeze the bulb with
your dominant hand until you can
no longer hear the pulse (About
140-200)
HOW TO MEASURE BP
10. Slowly and steadily open the valve. (This will release the air in the
cuff)
11. Listen for the 1st clear tapping sound. When you hear it note the
number on the gauge - (Systolic).
12. Continue to steadily deflate until you hear the last sound, note the
number on the gauge – (Diastolic).
TEMPERATURE
• Core temperature: the internal body temperature.
• The body’s core temperature must remain within a relatively narrow
range for its systems to function properly.
• Normal Temperature = 98.6 degrees F
• Oral temperature is the preferred method.
• Tympanic thermometer – in the ear.
MEASURING
TEMPERATURE
• Wait at least 15 minutes after patient has had anything to eat or
drink.
• Check to make sure the digital thermometer is working.
• Place a disposable cover on the thermometer.
• Place the probe in the patient’s mouth underneath of the tongue.
• Ask the patient to close their lips.
• When the thermometer beeps remove it from the patient’s mouth.
• Dispose of the cover.
• Record the temperature reading.