Simply put, vital signs refer to the measurements of your body’s basic functions. The most common vital signs that healthcare providers check routinely are:
Let’s explore all of them individually.
Blood pressure refers to the force with which the blood thrusts at the arterial walls when the heart relaxes and contracts. Every time the heart contracts (beats), blood is pumped into one’s arteries, thereby resulting in the peak pressure. Blood pressure lowers once the heart relaxes.
Your body’s blood pressure count comprises two numbers. The number above the fraction is the systolic pressure, a count that refers to the arterial pressure during the contraction of the heart. The denominator is called diastolic pressure, the count that refers to the pressure inside the arteries when the heart relaxes.
Usually, blood pressure is classified as low, healthy, and high:
NOTE: Both hypotension and hypertension are abnormal conditions that warrant medical intervention. While hypertension directly impacts the likelihood of a stroke and heart attack, persistent low blood pressure may cut the supply of oxygen to the brain and other organs, potentially resulting in shock that can be life-threatening.
Remember that these numbers are not set in stone. You may not necessarily have a problem if your ‘normal’ blood pressure level is slightly above the mark. For you to be diagnosed with hypertension, your healthcare provider will monitor your blood pressure over a protracted period – usually several weeks.
It refers to how many times you breathe every minute. Ideally, you should measure the rate of respiration only when your body is at rest. Proceed by counting the number of breaths; that is, how many times the chest expands. One complete count is every cycle of your chest inflating and deflating.
However, the count may vary depending on whether you are suffering from a fever or concluded a strenuous exercise session, for that matter. Note if you have any labored breathing when you are counting the rate of respiration.
At rest, a healthy adult’s regular respiration rate is usually 12-20 breaths every minute.
The ideal body temperature among adults will vary across factors such as gender, any activity session conducted recently, fever or illness, consumption of certain foods and fluids, and the menstrual cycle (for women). For a healthy adult, his/her normal body temperature can range anywhere between 36.5 degree Celsius and 37.2 degree Celsius.
The body’s normal temperature may rise (a condition called hyperthermia), or fall (hypothermia, a condition marked by the temperature falling below 35 degree Celsius) by a degree or more should you have a fever.
Simply said, pulse rate refers to how many times the heart contracts in a minute. Therefore, measuring the pulse rate is akin to measuring the heart rate. Besides indicating the heart rate, taking your pulse can also point at:
In healthy adults, a normal heart rate at rest is usually anywhere between 60 and 100 bpm (beats per minute). Generally, a more relaxed pace, when at rest, indicates more efficient functioning of the heart, and therefore better cardiovascular health. Remember that your pulse rate can vary, depending on the emotions you are feeling, any activity that you’ve undertaken, or any illness you may be suffering from.
For example, a resting heart rate (RHR) among athletes can be as ‘low’ as 45-50 bpm. However, that may not be any problem, considering regular exercise and cardiovascular training strengthen the muscles of the heart.