How to take a pulse in first aid

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7 Responses

  1. Thanks you very much for sharing this very important information.

  2. Linkzelda41 says:

    Thanks for providing this wealth of information in a concise manner! I was only aware of the wrist and neck regions before for checking a pulse, but never for the elbow crease! This article definitely helped me learn something completely new!

  3. suncoast15 says:

    Great post, I’d like to add a few things:

    1. Another option is the femoral pulse. This can be used if there is trauma to any of the previously mentioned areas.
    2. In general, you can estimate with reasonable accuracy, the minimum systolic blood pressure of a patient with a palpable pulse. If they have a carotid, femoral and radial pulse, SBP > 70mmHg. If carotid and femoral pulses are present, SBP > 50mmHg. If only carotid pulse is present, SBP > 40mmHg. This makes sense as the carotid pulse is the closest to the heart out of all three pulses, and during times of cardiogenic shock (or any other type of shock for that reason), there will be peripheral vasoconstriction which will diminish radial pulses. The evolutionary reason for this is because the body will try to preserve blood flow to the brain rather than the extremities.
    3. In an unstable patient, such as the patient who is experiencing an abnormal heart rhythm (afib, etc), their pulse may vary rapidly. Measuring pulse via the 2x30sec method may not give an accurate reading. Any emergency physician will tell you to measure for the full 60 seconds, and longer, if you are not just trying to measure a pulse but rather to make sure they still have a pulse!
    4. A pulse can have many qualities – rate, rhythm, volume, force, etc. In a healthy person in no acute distress, their pulse may be described as “regular, strong and bounding”. In contrast, a person in distress or in shock may have a “weak and thready pulse”. Don’t be alarmed though – some patients with peripheral vascular disease may have a weak and thready pulse but not be in shock.

  4. theshaynee says:

    It always amazes me how they do it wrong in the movies. Learning the right spots – the exact spots – is really important.
    I agree with the post above – there are many ways to check for a pulse. Sometimes you have to take alternative routes to see if they have a heartbeat.

  5. cpefley says:

    Thank you for sharing this information. I have always had an easy time finding carotid pulse, but radial is a little more tricky.

  6. sillyeggplant says:

    Personally I think taking the pulse from the neck is the easiest. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I’ve always had trouble trying to find the pulse in the wrist. Thank you for this guide, this will probably come in handy when the only way I can take pule is from the wrist.

  7. Steve Cook says:

    Finding the wrist pulse is often difficult, especially if the casualty is a bit overweight. Personally I’ve always preferred the carotid over the radial. A tip I was told many years ago for the radial pulse was to rest the wrist on yopur thumb and then use the first three fingers, pressing lightly with the index and third finger, then the pulse is more easily felt with the second finger. Practice is the key. Did my first first aid course over 50 years ago, but not done one in 10 years.

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