Measuring the Four Vital Signs


Last updated, February 2018

Vital signs are measured to determine whether the basic functions of the bodywork. There are four main vital signs that are routinely measured by medical professionals. These are: respiratory rate, body temperature, pulse rate and blood pressure.

A healthcare professional would measure these four vital signs to check a patient’s physical functioning. When measuring the signs, the doctor will use a vital sign chart to compare norms and document the measurements.

The normal ranges of vital signs vary according to a patient’s age, health, gender, weight, and fitness.

How to Measure the Four Vital Signs

Body Temperature

Body temperature is normally measured by placing a thermometer under the patient’s armpit, tongue or in the anus. Some special thermometers that can also measure body temperature in the ear canal or on the skin.

The normal body temperature of a healthy person is about 98.6 degrees. However, the body temperature of a healthy person should range from around 97.8 to 99.1 degrees Fahrenheit, or a little higher.

If your body temperature is lower than this range, you may have hypothermia. If the temperature is higher than normal, you may have a fever. Fever is a symptom of a present infection or illness.

The body temperature of a healthy person can vary depending on if they have been exercising, has had a hot or cold drink or if they have lately been in a hot or cold environment.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure of the human body is the total amount of pressure or force in your blood against the walls of the artery.

Blood pressure is generally conveyed in two numbers: your diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

Systolic blood pressure is the total amount of pressure acquired when your heart beats. Diastolic blood pressure is the total amount of pressure acquired when your heart is resting between beats.

Normal blood pressure of a healthy person is 120/80 mm of mercury (mm Hg). Blood pressure can be measured with a digital or aneroid monitor. Hypertension or high blood pressure (140/90 mm Hg or above) when someone is resting increases the risk of atherosclerosis, heart failure and stroke.

Respiratory Rate

The respiratory rate of a human being is often measured by counting the number of breaths a person takes within a minute.

The normal respiratory rate of a healthy adult ranges from 12 to 20 breaths per minute. However, this may vary if the person is experiencing heart failure, a drug overdose or has various health conditions.

RELATED: How to Listen to Lung Sounds

Pulse Rate

Pulse rate is simply the number of times your heart beats in every minute. A person’s pulse is normally low when they are resting and it increases when they are active and exercising.

The normal pulse rate of a healthy adult ranges from 60 to 80 beats per minute. The pulse rate of a human being can be measured by lightly pressing two fingers on the wrist or neck arteries and totaling the number of beats registered per minute.

If a patient has a fast pulse rate, this can indicate health problems like a heart condition, anxiety, dehydration or an infection in the body. A slow pulse rate can mean that the patient has a condition. Slow or fast heart rate is a common occurrence in people using certain medication or those who exercise a lot respectively.

If you want to reduce the risk of getting various lifestyle diseases, visit your doctor frequently, drink a lot of water, eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. Also, ensure that your vital signs are at a normal rate.



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