Vital signs (body temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure) | Columbia Doctors - New York (2023)

What are vital signs?

Vital signs are measurements of the body's most basic functions. The top four vital signs routinely monitored by healthcare professionals and healthcare professionals include the following:

  • body temperature
  • pulsation
  • respiratory rate (respiratory rate)
  • Blood pressure (Blood pressure is not considered a vital sign, but is usually measured with vital signs).

Vital signs are useful for detecting or monitoring medical problems. Vital signs can be measured in a medical setting, at home, at a medical emergency facility, or elsewhere.

What is body temperature?

A person's normal body temperature varies based on gender, recent activity, food and fluid intake, time of day, and, in women, the stage of the menstrual cycle. Normal body temperature for a healthy adult can range from 97.8 degrees F (or Fahrenheit, equivalent to 36.5 degrees C or Celsius) to 99 degrees F (37.2 degrees C). A person's body temperature can be measured in one of the following ways:

  • Oral.Temperature can be taken orally using the classic glass thermometer or the more modern digital thermometers that use an electronic probe to measure body temperature.
  • Rectal.Temperatures taken rectally (with a glass or digital thermometer) are typically 0.5 to 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than when taken orally.
  • armpit.Temperature can be measured with a glass or digital thermometer under the arm. Temperatures measured this way are typically 0.3 to 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit lower than temperatures measured orally.
  • With the ear.A special thermometer can quickly measure the temperature of the eardrum, which reflects the body's core temperature (the temperature of the internal organs).
  • through the skin.A special thermometer can quickly measure the temperature of the skin on the forehead.

Body temperature may be abnormal due to fever (high temperature) or hypothermia (low temperature). According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, a fever is indicated when the body temperature rises about one degree or more above the normal temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia is defined as a drop in body temperature below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Video) Vital Signs Nursing: Respiratory Rate, Pulse, Blood Pressure, Temperature, Pain, Oxygen

About glass thermometers containing mercury

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mercury is a toxic substance that poses a risk to human health and the environment. Due to the risk of breakage, glass thermometers containing mercury must be disposed of and disposed of properly in accordance with local, state, and federal laws. Contact your local health department, waste disposal authority, or fire department for information on proper disposal of mercury thermometers.

What is the pulse rate?

Pulse rate is a measure of heart rate, or the number of heartbeats per minute. When the heart pushes blood through the arteries, the arteries expand and contract with the blood flow. Pulse measurement not only measures heart rate, but can also display the following:

  • heart rhythm
  • wrist strength

The normal heart rate for healthy adults is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Heart rate can fluctuate and increase with exercise, illness, injury, and emotions. Women over the age of 12 generally have a faster heart rate than men. Athletes such as runners who do a lot of cardiovascular training can have heart rates close to 40 bpm and not have any problems.

How to check your pulse

As the heart forces blood through the arteries, you feel the beats pressing hard on the arteries, which are close to the surface of the skin in certain parts of the body. The pulse is on the side of the neck, on the inside of the elbow, or on the wrist. For most people, the easiest way is to measure the pulse on the wrist. When using the lower neck, be careful not to press too hard and never press the wrists on both sides of the lower neck at the same time to avoid blocking blood flow to the brain. When measuring heart rate:

  • Use the first and second fingertips to press firmly but gently against the arteries until you feel a pulse.
  • Start counting your heart rate when the second hand on the watch points to 12.
  • Count your heart rate for 60 seconds (or for 15 seconds and then multiply by four to calculate beats per minute).
  • When counting, do not constantly look at the clock, but focus on the pulse beat.
  • If you are not sure of your results, ask someone else to tell you.

If your doctor has told you to check your own pulse and you are having trouble finding it, contact your doctor or nurse for further instructions.

(Video) Vital Signs - Temperature, Pulse, and Respiration - CNA State Board Exam Skill

What is the respiratory rate?

Respiratory rate is the number of breaths a person takes per minute. Rate is usually measured when a person is at rest and simply involves counting the number of breaths taken per minute, counting the number of times the chest rises. Respiratory rate may increase with fever, illness, and other medical conditions. When checking for breathing, it is important to also note whether a person is having trouble breathing.

Normal breathing rates for an adult at rest range from 12 to 16 breaths per minute.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure, measured by a nurse or other health care professional using a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope, is the force of blood against the artery walls. Each time the heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries, resulting in the highest blood pressure when the heart is contracting. You can only measure your own blood pressure when using an electronic blood pressure monitor. Electronic blood pressure monitors can also measure heart rate or pulse.

When measuring blood pressure, two numbers are recorded. The top number, or systolic pressure, refers to the pressure in the artery when the heart contracts and pumps blood throughout the body. The lower number, or diastolic pressure, refers to the pressure in the artery when the heart is at rest and filling with blood. Systolic and diastolic pressures are recorded in "mm Hg" (millimeters of mercury). This record represents the height of the mercury column in an old-fashioned manual sphygmomanometer (called a mercury manometer) raised by blood pressure. Today, your doctor's office tends to use a simple scale for this measurement.

High blood pressure, or high blood pressure, directly increases the risk of coronary artery disease (heart attack) and stroke (stroke). With high blood pressure, the arteries can have a greater resistance to blood flow, causing the heart to pump harder to get the blood circulating.

(Video) Measure and Record Respirations CNA Skill NEW

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, high blood pressure in adults is defined as:

  • 140 mm Hg or higher systolic pressureor
  • 90 mm Hg or higher diastolic pressure

In a 2003 update of the NHLBI guidelines for hypertension, a new blood pressure category called prehypertension was added:

  • 120 mm Hg - 139 mm Hg systolic pressureor
  • 80 mm Hg - 89 mm Hg diastolic pressure

NHLBI guidelines now define normal blood pressure as follows:

  • Systolic pressure less than 120 mm Hge
  • Diastolic pressure less than 80 mm Hg

These numbers are to be used as a guide only. A single high blood pressure reading is not necessarily indicative of a problem. Your doctor will want to see several blood pressure readings over several days or weeks before diagnosing hypertension (high blood pressure) and starting treatment. A person who normally has lower than normal blood pressure may be considered hypertensive with blood pressure readings less than 140/90.

Why should I monitor my blood pressure at home?

For people with high blood pressure, home monitoring allows your doctor to monitor how much your blood pressure is changing throughout the day and from day to day. This can also help your doctor determine how effective your blood pressure medication is.

(Video) Measure and Record Radial Pulse CNA Skill NEW

What special equipment is needed to measure blood pressure?

Blood pressure can be measured using an aneroid monitor, which has a dial indicator and is read by looking at a pointer, or a digital monitor, where the blood pressure reading flashes on a small screen.

About the aneroid monitor

Aneroid monitor is cheaper than digital monitor. The cuff is manually inflated by squeezing a rubber bulb. Some devices even have a special feature that makes it easier to apply the cuff with one hand. However, the device can easily be damaged and become less accurate. As the person using it must listen to the heartbeat with the stethoscope, it may not be suitable for the hearing impaired.

About digital monitor

The digital monitor is automatic, with measurements appearing on a small screen. As the records are easy to read, this is the most popular blood pressure monitor. It is also easier to use than the aneroid, and since there is no need to listen to the heartbeat through the stethoscope, it is a good device for the hearing impaired. One downside is that body movement or an irregular heart rate can change the accuracy. These units are also more expensive than aneroid monitors.

About finger and wrist blood pressure monitors

Tests have shown that finger and/or wrist blood pressure monitors do not measure blood pressure as accurately as other types of monitors. Also, they are more expensive than other monitors.

Before measuring your blood pressure:

  • Rest without speaking for three to five minutes before taking a measurement.
  • Sit in a comfortable chair with your back supported and your legs and ankles uncrossed.
  • Sit still and place your arm on a table or hard surface at heart level.
  • Wrap the cuff gently and snugly around your upper arm. The cuff should be sized to fit comfortably, but still leave enough room for the fingertip to slip underneath.
  • Make sure the lower edge of the cuff is at least 2.5 cm above the crease of the elbow.

It is also important that when measuring blood pressure, you record the date and time of the measurement, as well as the systolic and diastolic measurements. This is important information for your doctor. Ask your doctor or other healthcare professional to teach you how to use the blood pressure monitor correctly. Check the meter's accuracy routinely by taking it to your doctor. It's also important to make sure the hose isn't twisted when you store it and keep it away from heat to prevent cracking and leaking.

(Video) What the Pulse Pressure tells you

Proper use of blood pressure monitor will help you and your doctor to monitor your blood pressure.


What are the four 4 main vital signs measured by healthcare workers? ›

The four main vital signs routinely monitored by medical professionals and health care providers include the following:
  • Body temperature.
  • Pulse rate.
  • Respiration rate (rate of breathing)
  • Blood pressure (Blood pressure is not considered a vital sign, but is often measured along with the vital signs.)

What are the 5 most important vital signs? ›

Your pulse rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, weight, and temperature are 5 vital signs we recommend tracking on a regular basis.

What are the 6 main vital signs? ›

The vital signs a medical assistant administers during a patient visit include blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, respiratory rate, height and weight. The first time a patient visits a doctor, the medical assistant takes their vitals. This is to establish a baseline.

What are the 5 vital assessments? ›

The five vital assessments of a standard physical exam for small animals include temperature, pulse, respiration, pain, and nutritional assessment.

Is 30 breaths a minute normal? ›

Respiratory rate: A person's respiratory rate is the number of breaths you take per minute. The normal respiration rate for an adult at rest is 12 to 20 breaths per minute. A respiration rate under 12 or over 25 breaths per minute while resting is considered abnormal.

Is 120 pulse rate normal? ›

If your heart rate is over 100 beats per minute when you are at rest, this is considered fast. A rapid heart rate, also known as tachycardia, can be related to many different health conditions.

What are the 4 main vital signs and their normal range? ›

Normal vital sign ranges for the average healthy adult while resting are: Blood pressure: 90/60 mm Hg to 120/80 mm Hg. Breathing: 12 to 18 breaths per minute. Pulse: 60 to 100 beats per minute.

What are the 7 vitals? ›

The vital signs doctors typically measure and monitor are:
  • body temperature.
  • heart rate (the rate of your heartbeat)
  • respiratory rate (rate of breathing)
  • blood pressure.
  • oxygen saturation (the amount of oxygen circulating in your blood)
16 Nov 2022

What is normal pulse by age? ›

Normal Heart Rate by Age Chart
AgeNormal Resting Heart Rate
Children 3 to 4 years old80 to 120 bpm
Children 5 to 6 years old75 to 115 bpm
Children 7 to 9 years old70 to 110 bpm
Children 10 years and older and adults (including seniors)60 to 100 bpm
4 more rows
28 Nov 2022

What is normal BP? ›

ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher. low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower.

What is normal respiratory rate by age? ›

AgeRespiratory rate (breaths/minute)
6 to <8 years1618 to 24
8 to <12 years1416 to 22
12 to <15 years1215 to 21
15 to 18 years1113 to 19
10 more rows

What is a good heart rate? ›

A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example, a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 beats per minute.

How do you chart vital signs? ›

Temperature, pulse, respira- tion, and blood pressure are usually taken in this order. For proper charting of vital signs in the medical record, it is helpful to remember the T, P, R, BP sequence and record the results in that order. During some office visits, only one of the vital signs may be measured.

What are the 5 vital signs CNA? ›

What are the five vital signs that the CNA/Nurse Aide measures?
  • Temperature: core body temperature.
  • Pulse: Number of heartbeats per minute.
  • Respirations: Number of times a client breathes per minute.
  • Blood pressure: Systolic and diastolic pressures within the arteries.

What is the 4 main things in nursing assessment? ›

WHEN YOU PERFORM a physical assessment, you'll use four techniques: inspection, palpation, percussion, and auscultation.

Can CNA take vitals? ›

CNAs are essential care providers in hospitals, nursing homes, and residential care centers, assisting patients with basic activities, such as moving, eating, dressing, and staying sanitary. They also support nurses and other care providers by taking vital signs, including temperature and blood pressure.

What does respiration 14 mean? ›

The normal respiratory rate for healthy adults is between 12–20 breaths per minute. At this breathing rate, the carbon dioxide exits the lungs at the same rate that the body produces it. Breathing rates of below 12 or above 20 can mean a disruption in the normal breathing processes.

What are the 5 main vital signs quizlet? ›

  • Five Vital Signs. temperature, pulse, respiration, blood pressure and pain.
  • vital signs. ...
  • production of body heat. ...
  • factors affecting body heat. ...
  • factors affecting body heat production. ...
  • body temperature regulation. ...
  • heat loss occurs.. ...
  • problems of temperature regulation.

Why is checking vital signs important? ›

Vital signs monitoring is crucial for living a long and healthy life. Vitals gives us a glimpse into our overall well-being. They signal early signs of an infection, prevent a misdiagnosis, detect symptom-less medical problems, and encourage us to make better choices.

Is 40 breaths per minute fast? ›

Increased Respiratory Rate. In adults, a breathing rate over 20 breaths per minute is usually considered elevated. A rate over 24 breaths per minute indicates a very serious condition. It may be less serious when the higher rate is because of a psychological condition such as a panic attack.

Is 60 breaths per minute Normal? ›

A normal breathing rate for an adult at rest is 8 to 16 breaths per minute. For an infant, a normal rate is up to 44 breaths per minute.

What is a high respiratory rate? ›

What is Considered an Elevated Respiratory Rate? The average adult takes between 12 and 20 breaths or respirations per minute (RPM) while at rest. In adults, an elevated respiratory rate is generally considered to be more than 20 RPM.

What heart rate is too high? ›

Tachycardia (tak-ih-KAHR-dee-uh) is the medical term for a heart rate over 100 beats a minute. Many types of irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) can cause tachycardia.

What is an unsafe heart rate? ›

Abnormal Heart Rates or Heart Beats reflect the cardiac conditions of the body. If unnoticed and untreated, this can sometimes be fatal. Conditions when the heartbeat goes beyond 120-140 beats per minute or falls below 60 beats per minute, can be considered dangerous, and immediate doctor's intervention is a must.

Is resting heart rate of 110 too high? ›

Normally, your heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute when you're not active. When your heart beats more than 100 times a minute at rest, that's tachycardia. Because your heart beats too often, it doesn't have the time it needs to fill with blood between beats.

Is 11 breaths per minute while sleeping normal? ›

The normal respiratory rate of an adult at rest3 is 12 to 20 times per minute. In one study, the average sleep respiratory rate rate for people without sleep apnea was 15 to 16 times a minute.

What are abnormal vital signs? ›

A pulse rate less than 60/min or greater than 100/min, a temperature less than 95 °F or greater than 99.6 °F, and a blood oxygen level of less than 95% defined abnormal levels.

Is 6 breaths per minute normal while sleeping? ›

The normal breathing rate for an adult is typically between 12 and 20 breaths per minute. A respiration rate below 12 or over 25 breaths per minute while resting may signal an underlying health problem. Bradypnea can happen during sleep or when you're awake.

What are the 4 main vital? ›

There are four main vital signs: body temperature, blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate. Normal ranges for these signs vary by age, sex, weight and other factors.

What are the 4 vital functions? ›

They are vital functions– processes or actions of the body on which life is directly dependent. You will examine four main vital functions in this course: exchange with the environment; transport within the body; structure, support, and movement; and control and regulation.

What are the 4 P's in hospital? ›

The four Ps (predictive, preventive, personalized, participative) [3] (Box 21.1) represent the cornerstones of a model of clinical medicine, which offers concrete opportunities to modify the healthcare paradigm [4].

What are the four main vital signs quizlet? ›

What are the four vital signs? Temperature, pulse, respiration, and blood pressure.

What are the 7 vital functions? ›

There are seven essential processes in common: movement, respiration, sensitivity, growth, reproduction, excretion and nutrition or MRS GREN. 3. Does all living things exhibit MRS GREN? Yes, anything that is alive (animals, plants, humans) MUST demonstrate all seven of these processes!!

What are the 7 body functions? ›

The basic processes of life include organization, metabolism, responsiveness, movements, and reproduction. In humans, who represent the most complex form of life, there are additional requirements such as growth, differentiation, respiration, digestion, and excretion.

What are the 12 life functions? ›

Nutrition, transport, respiration, excretion, regulation, growth, reproduction, synthesis, and metabolism are the life functions or characteristics shared by living things. 4.

What are the 6 C's of nursing? ›

The 6Cs of nursing are:
  • Care.
  • Compassion.
  • Competence.
  • Communication.
  • Courage.
  • Commitment.

What are the 5 Ps in nursing? ›

During hourly rounds with patients, our nursing and support staff ask about the standard 5 Ps: potty, pain, position, possessions and peaceful environment. When our team members ask about these five areas, it gives them the opportunity to proactively address the most common patient needs.

What are the 4 R's in nursing? ›

Turner and Rushton created a potential solution built on 4Rs: recognize, release, reconsider, and restart. Recognize. The first thing nurses should do is recognize the situation for what it is; not what it represents.

What are 4 P's quizlet? ›

Defined by 4 P's. product, place, promotion, and price, which together make up the marketing mix. What does the customer want from the product/service?

What three 3 factors are noted about respirations? ›

The three factors that must be noted about every pulse is Respiration count, Rhythm and Character of respirations.

Who has the fastest pulse rate? ›

The pygmy shrew, which weighs in at less than an ounce, has the fastest heartbeat of any mammal at 1,200 beats per minute, according to the National Wildlife Federation. (See “Small Wonder: What Are the World's Tiniest Animals?”)


1. Taking a new view of vital signs: Front Row lecture with Jay Pandit, MD
(Scripps Research)
2. CNA Skill: Vital Signs - Temperature, Pulse and Respiration
3. Vital signs monitoring for anesthesiologists, explained
(Max Feinstein)
4. How to measure Blood pressure | Pulse | oxygen #systolic #dystolic #bloodpressure #pulse #newyork
(AURA Relaxation)
5. How To Use the Heart Rate and Respiratory Rate From Your Tracking Device
(Feldman Physical Therapy and Performance)
6. Prometric Skills Demo for Measuring and recording a resident’s radial pulse
(TX CNA Skills)
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