Day-to-Day Care


Observation:  Heart Beat


The pulse rate is a measure of heart beat.  Each time the heart beats, blood is pumped through the arteries, causing a wave of momentary expansion which can be felt in the arteries near the surface of the body and where an artery passes over a bone.  This expansion of the artery, or pulse, can be felt by gently pressing the artery against the bone with your fingers.  The most common sites for taking a pulse are at the wrist below  the thumb, at the temple and at the angle of the jaw.
Adults usually have a pulse rate of 60 to 80 beats per minute when at rest.  The normal pulse rates varies with age as well as between the genders; it varies with the position of the individual, being more rapid when he is standing than when he is sitting and slowest when he is fully relaxed.  The pulse rate is increased during excitement, anger, fear and anxiety.  It is decreased during sleep.  Hypothermia or certain drugs might cause the pulse to beat more slowly than usual.   A normal pulse rate should corresponds with the age of the person, should have a regular rhythm with the beats evenly spaced, be of moderate volume, and the pulse should not be too easily compressed.

Counting Pulse Rate

To check the pulse rate at the wrist, feel the inside of the wrist on the thumb side, just up from the creases between hand and forearm.  Place you first three fingers along the line of the artery in the wrist.  The thumb and fingertips have pulses so use the pads of your fingers to take a pulse to avoid confusion.  Count the beats of the pulse for 1 minute, using a digital watch or one with a second-hand.  Remember to note the rate, strength and rhythm.

Any change in the rate, rhythm or strength of the pulse may mean that there has been a change in the person's condition.  If on retaking the pulse a few minutes later there is still a significant change, consult your doctor. 


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