Vital Signs


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Measuring a patient's temperature using a consistent route is important to ensure accurate trending. Oral and rectal routes are more reliable and are the recommended routes for evaluating temperature.

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Axilla temperature should only be used when there are contraindications to the recommended routes. For guidelines on the appropriate routes for intermittent temperature monitoring, please refer to the Vital Signs and Monitoring policy. The above temperature ranges have been arrived at from variety of sources and should be interpreted and managed in the context of the patient's age, illness, and clinical picture. The literature demonstrates that here is no single agreement of what specific temperature reading consists a fever.

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Premature and small term infants may not be able to generate an elevated temperature in response to infections. Oxygen saturation is measured using a pulse oxymeter device and an appropriate probe affixed to the patient. SickKids Policies and Procedures: Nursing student roles and responsibilities Family-centered care Providing culturally competent care Module 1: Normal body temperature can range from A person's body temperature can be taken in any of the following ways:. Temperature can be taken by mouth using either the classic glass thermometer, or the more modern digital thermometers that use an electronic probe to measure body temperature.

Temperatures taken by this route tend to be 0. A special thermometer can quickly measure the temperature of the eardrum, which reflects the body's core temperature the temperature of the internal organs. 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. A fever is indicated when body temperature rises about one degree or more over the normal temperature of According to the Environmental Protection Agency EPA , mercury is toxic and poses a threat to the health of humans, as well as to the environment.

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Respiration rate (rate of breathing) Blood pressure (Blood pressure is not considered a vital sign, but is often measured along with the vital signs.) The pulse rate is a measurement of the heart rate, or the number of times the heart beats per minute. Vital signs are a group of the 4 to 6 most important signs that indicate the status of the body's vital (life-sustaining) functions. These measurements are taken to.

Because of the risk of breaking, glass thermometers with mercury should be not be used. If you have a mercury thermometer, dispose of it properly in accordance with local, state, and federal laws. Contact your local health department, waste disposal authority, or fire department for information on how to properly dispose of mercury thermometers. The pulse rate is a measurement of the heart rate, or the number of times the heart beats per minute.

As the heart pushes blood through the arteries, the arteries expand and contract with the flow of the blood. Taking a pulse not only measures the heart rate, but also can indicate the following:. The normal pulse for healthy adults ranges from 60 to beats per minute. The pulse rate may fluctuate and increase with exercise, illness, injury, and emotions.

Females ages 12 and older, in general, tend to have faster heart rates than do males. Athletes, such as runners, who do a lot of cardiovascular conditioning, may have heart rates near 40 beats per minute and experience no problems. As the heart forces blood through the arteries, you feel the beats by firmly pressing on the arteries, which are located close to the surface of the skin at certain points of the body.

The pulse can be found on the side of the neck, on the inside of the elbow, at the wrist, or in the groin. For most people, it is easiest to take the pulse at the wrist.

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If you use the lower neck, be sure not to press too hard, and never press on the pulses on both sides of the lower neck at the same time to prevent blocking blood flow to the brain. Using the first and second fingertips, press firmly but gently on the arteries until you feel a pulse. Count your pulse for 60 seconds or for 15 seconds and then multiply by 4 to calculate beats per minute.

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When counting, do not watch the clock continuously, but concentrate on the beats of the pulse. The respiration rate is the number of breaths a person takes per minute. The rate is usually measured when a person is at rest and simply involves counting the number of breaths for one minute by counting how many times the chest rises. Respiration rates may increase with fever, illness, and with other medical conditions. The higher number, or systolic pressure, refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart contracts and pumps blood through the body. The lower number, or diastolic pressure, refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart is at rest and is filling with blood.

Both the systolic and diastolic pressures are recorded as "mm Hg" millimeters of mercury. This recording represents how high the mercury column in an old-fashioned manual blood pressure device called a mercury manometer or sphygmomanometer is raised by the pressure of the blood.

Today, your doctor's office is more likely to use a simple dial for this measurement. High blood pressure , or hypertension, directly increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.

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With high blood pressure, the arteries may have an increased resistance against the flow of blood, causing the heart to pump harder to circulate the blood. Elevated blood pressure is systolic of to and diastolic less than Stage 1 high blood pressure is systolic is to or diastolic between 80 to Stage 2 high blood pressure is when systolic is or higher or the diastolic is 90 or higher. These numbers should be used as a guide only. A single blood pressure measurement that is higher than normal is not necessarily an indication of a problem.

Your doctor will want to see multiple blood pressure measurements over several days or weeks before making a diagnosis of high blood pressure and starting treatment. Ask your provider when to contact him or her if your blood pressure readings are not within normal range. Either an aneroid monitor, which has a dial gauge and is read by looking at a pointer, or a digital monitor, in which the blood pressure reading flashes on a small screen, can be used to measure blood pressure.

The aneroid monitor is less expensive than the digital monitor.

The cuff is inflated by hand by squeezing a rubber bulb. Some units even have a special feature to make it easier to put the cuff on with one hand.

Vital Signs

However, the unit can be easily damaged and become less accurate. Because the person using it must listen for heartbeats with the stethoscope, it may not be appropriate for the hearing-impaired. The digital monitor is automatic, with the measurements appearing on a small screen.

Vital Signs

Because the recordings are easy to read, this is the most popular blood pressure measuring device. It is also easier to use than the aneroid unit, and since there is no need to listen to heartbeats through the stethoscope, this is a good device for hearing-impaired patients. One disadvantage is that body movements or an irregular heart rate can change the accuracy.

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Today, your doctor's office is more likely to use a simple dial for this measurement. Hold the bell in place with your left hand. As the heart forces blood through the arteries, you feel the beats by firmly pressing on the arteries, which are located close to the surface of the skin at certain points of the body. Causes of secondary hypertension, along with suggestive features, include the following: Vital signs are useful in detecting or monitoring medical problems. Vital Signs There are four main vital signs:

These units are also more expensive than the aneroid monitors. In addition, they are more expensive than the other monitors. The American Heart Association recommends the following guidelines for home blood pressure monitoring:.

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Sit with your back supported don't sit on a couch or soft chair. Keep your feet on the floor uncrossed. Place your arm on a solid flat surface like a table with the upper part of the arm at heart level. Place the middle of the cuff directly above the bend of the elbow. Check the monitor's instruction manual for an illustration. When you measure, take 2 to 3 readings one minute apart and record all the results.

Take the record with you to your next medical appointment.