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close this bookWhere Women Have No Doctor - A Health Guide for Women (Hesperian Foundation, 1997, 600 p.)
close this folderHealth Care Skills
close this folderHow to take temperature, pulse, respiration, and blood pressure
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentTemperature
View the documentPulse (heartbeat)
View the documentRespiration (breathing rate)
View the documentBlood pressure

Pulse (heartbeat)

The pulse tells how fast the heart is beating and how hard it is working. After hard work or exercise, the heart of a healthy person beats fast, but slows back to normal in a few minutes. The heart usually increases 20 beats a minute for each degree (C) rise in fever.

A normal pulse in an adult is between 60 and 90 beats per minute. A fast pulse can be a sign of:

· blood loss or fluid loss, or shock.
· fever and infection.
· problems with the lungs and breathing system, or with the heart.
· thyroid problems.

To take the pulse, put your fingers on the wrist as shown (do not use your thumb).

If you cannot find the pulse in the wrist, feel for it in the neck beside the voicebox,

or put your ear directly on the chest and listen for the heartbeat.