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Vital signs

Vital signs reflect essential body functions, including your heartbeat, breathing rate, temperature, and blood pressure. Your health care provider may watch, measure, or monitor your vital signs to check your level of physical functioning.

Normal vital signs change with age, sex, weight, exercise capability, and overall health.

Normal vital sign ranges for the average healthy adult while resting are:

  • Blood pressure: 90/60 mm Hg to 120/80 mm Hg
  • Breathing: 12 to 18 breaths per minute
  • Pulse: 60 to 100 beats per minute
  • Temperature: 97.8°F to 99.1°F (36.5°C to 37.3°C); average 98.6°F (37°C)

References

Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW. Vital signs and pain assessment. In: Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW, eds. Seidel's Guide to Physical Examination. 9th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2019:chap 6.

Simel DL. Approach to the patient: history and physical examination. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 6.

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    • Wrist pulse

      Wrist pulse

      illustration

    • Blood pressure check

      Blood pressure check

      illustration

    • Thermometer temperature

      Thermometer temperature

      illustration

      • Wrist pulse

        Wrist pulse

        illustration

      • Blood pressure check

        Blood pressure check

        illustration

      • Thermometer temperature

        Thermometer temperature

        illustration

       

      Review Date: 1/16/2021

      Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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