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4 vital signs

temperature, pulse, respiration, BP


normal body temperature


CONDITION in which body temperature is elevated


elevation above the upper limit of normal body temp (body temperature above normal)
synonym for fever


elevation above the upper limit of normal body temp (body temperature above normal)
synonym for pyrexia


high body temperature, elevated above normal range


high fever, above 41C or 105.8F


low body temperature

ineffective thermoregulation

state in which temperature fluctuates between above-normal and below-normal ranges


the difference between the amount of heat produced by the body and the amount of heat lost to the environment

core temperatures measured by

tympanic or rectal. also, esophagus, pulmonary artery or bladder

surface body temperature measured by

oral, axillary, and skin surface

normal temp: adult

Oral = 98.6F, 37C
Rectal = 99.5F, 37.6C (higher than oral)
Axillary = 97.6F, 36.5C (lower than oral)
Tympanic = 99.6F, 37.5C (higher than oral)
Forehead = 94.6F, 34.4C (lower than oral)


light tap caused by expansion of the aorta sending a wave through the walls of the arterial system

pulse rate

number of pulsations felt in a minute

stroke volume

quantity of blood forced out of the left ventricle with each contraction

pulse amplitude

quality of the pulse in terms of fullness; reflects strength of left ventricular contraction


irregular pattern of heartbeats


-slow heart rate
is a pulse rate below 60 beats/min in an adult


- rapid heart rate. it is a pulse rate of 100-180 beats/min in an adult
- decreases cardiac filling time --> decreases stroke volume and cardiac output

cardiac output

the amount of blood pumped (from left ventricle) per minute
CO = stroke volume x Heart rate

pulse rhythm

the pattern of pulsations and pauses between them

pulse deficit

the difference between the apical and radial pulse rates

pulse amplitude levels

0 = absent pulse
1+ = thready pulse (not easily felt, sl. pressure disapp
2+ = weak pulse (light pressure -> disappears)
3+ = normal pulse (moderate pressure to disappear)
4+ = bounding pulse (doesn't disappear w/mod. press


an irregular pattern of heartbeats
abnormal cardiac rhythm

pulse pressure

difference btw systolic and diastolic pressures


involves ventilation, diffusion and perfusion.
-gas exchange btw the atmospheric air in the alveoli and blood in the capillaries


(or breathing) is movement of gases in and out of the lungs
- both autonomic and voluntary control


the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the alveoli of the lungs and the circulating blood


is the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the circulating blood and tissue cells
aka external respiration


normal respiration (with equal rate and depth)


increased/fast respiratory rate


decrease/slow in respiratory rate


periods during which there is no breathing


difficult or labored breathing


dyspneic people can often breath more easily in an upright position (sitting or standing)

blood pressure

fore of the moving blood against arterial walls

systolic pressure

highest point of pressure on arterial walls when the ventricles (left) contract

diastolic pressure

the least amount of pressure exerted on arterial walls, which occurs when the heart is at rest between ventricular contractions


BP is above normal for a sustained period of time


is below normal BP

orthostatic hypotension

a drop in systolic BP of ≥ 20mm Hg OR a drop in diastolic BP of ≥ 10mm Hg within 3 minutes of standing up

Korotkoff sounds

the series of sounds for which the nurse listens when taking the BP

Normal levels of vitals: adults

Temp (oral) = 37C
Pulse = 60-100
Respiration = 12-20
BP = 120/80

regulation of pulse: Sympathetic NS

↑ HR
↑ AV conduction
↑ contractility

regulation of pulse: Parasympathetic NS

↓ HR
↓ AV conduction
↓ contractility
vagus nerve (bowel movement)


listen with stethoscope's diaphragm over the apex of the heart. best btw 5th & 6th ICS and about 3 inches to the left of the median line & slightly below the nipple


120-139 OR 80-89

stage 1 hypertension

140-159 OR 90-99

stage 2 hypertension

≥160 OR ≥100

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