Vital Signs and the Heart


  • The pulse/heart rate:
  • Pulse rate differs according to age, sex and fitness levels.
  • It can also be influenced by heart medication and stress levels.
  • Temperature will influence the heart rate as the vessles dilate more when it is hot, thus lowering the blood pressure and the pulse has to increase to make sure there is optimal oxygen flow to the organs
  • Hormones such as adrenalin, nor-adrenalin and thyroxin can increase the heart rate.
  • A man's normal heart rate is  between 65 - 85 bpm and a women is between 70 - 80 bpm. Children and babies have much higher pulse rates. 
  • Heat rates are slower when the person is fit, but a healthy heart will always increase with activity and then decrease to the normal level again.  A heart rate that cannot compensate and rise with exercise is not healthy. 

Heart rate is the pulse when blood is pumped through the artery. 


Breathing Rate

Normal breathing for an adult is between 12 - 20 breaths per minute. For children it can be between 20 to 40 breaths per minute, depending on their age. 

The importaint fact is to get hte baselin of what the patients NORMAL rate would be and this can be used to see changes and possible problems in the vital signs.

Blood pressure:

  • Blood pressure measures the amount of force needed to get the blood to the body and measures the pressure on the inner walls of the artery. Blood pressure is measured by a sphygmomanometer, in mmhg.
  • Blood pressure falls under the basic vital signs when one is assessing the health of an individual 
  • Blood pressure readings are taken but using a band around the artery, closing the artery and then measuring when the artery is opened (systolic reading on the top) and when it returns to normal and the pressure  in between heart beats (diastolic reading as the bottom reading). The reading is recorded as a ratio.
  • Normal blood pressure can vary between people, and are influenced by gender, age, fitness level, but should be within normal ranges

Accepted  ranges without needing medication are:

110 – 140  mmHg
60   – 80    mmHg

Blood pressure is influenced by:

  • Resistance in the arteries
  • Blood volume - how much blood is in the artery. (Heat will open the arteries, decreasing the BP.....)
  • Blood viscosity (thickness eg dehydration, vlood clotting factors, RBC, bleeding)
  • Heart action (How strongly does hte heart pump, is the beat regular...)




   What can increase your blood pressure:

Processed food with high salt content

 High Blood pressure is called hypertension. Hypertension is a high risk factor for strokes and cardiovascular incidents.

 What to do with elevated blood pressure:

  • Exercise can reduce blood pressure in the long term, make sure you consult your dr when starting exercise and start slowly and build up within your capability
  • Eat healthily
  • Seek medical professional and if you suspect you have higher blood pressure. 
  • Cut back caffeine
  • Limit alcohol



   Signs of possible hypertension:

If you have these signs, please consult a physician

  • Headaches, which could get aggravated lying down, and not connected to spinal or muscular injuries
  • Seeing stars when you close eyes. If you are pregnant, please consult the Doctor urgently for checking
  • Possible shortness of breath, not resulting from asthma
  • Nose bleeds (Nose bleeds do not mean you have high blood pressure. High blood pressure could cause nose bleeds)
  • Swelling ankles


FAQ's regarding hypertension

  • Can drinking water reduce your blood pressure

Drinking water is good for health generally. High blood pressure can be linked to kidney disfunction, especially when it has been a longterm, untreated issue. 

  • Does anxiety cause hypertension?

Anxiety can cause a short term increase in the systolic blood pressur only, and it should drop to normal rates again. 

  • Does deep breathing reduce your blood pressure?

Deep breathing can reduce anxiety and slightly reduce your blood pressure, but does not replace hypertensive medication at all. Hypertension needs medical attention. 

  • How do blood pressure medications work?

Some medications work by increasing the kidney function and decreases water retention. Other medications can directly influence the arterial walls and heart. This medication is  not to be suddenly stopped and should be monitored by a medical professional, especially when there is other medication involved. 

Always inform your doctor about all the medication and vitamins or herbs that you are taking, as this can influence and change the absorption of your chronic medication.

    Risk factors for high blood pressure:

  • Increased salt in your diet
  • Too little potassium
  • Overweight / Obese
  • Inactivitiy
  • Family history

What are the complications of high blood pressure?

A hypertensive crisis:

  • A severe increase in blood pressure: 180/120

Reduced kidney function

Reduced eye function



How do I feel when my blood pressure drops:

  • Dizzy
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue / tiredness
  • Possible headaches

Hypotension is a LOW blood pressure and can be caused by:

  • Genetics and family history
  • Bleeding
  • Vagal nerve stimulation
  • Low body temperature
  • Sever dehydration
  • Medication or alcohol
  • Sepsis


Complications of hypotension:

Reduced blood flow to your kidneys and vital organs can cause less oxygenation to the organ and if it is long term, it can cause damage. 


Treatment of hypotension:

Severe cases are treated with intravenous transfusion

Hypotension is different for each person, but will fall within certain parameters. 

Hypotension falls on the lower limits or below the normal limits of the baseline. 

Eg 90/60 for an adult. 








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The information is not intended for harm, to be seen as diagnosis,
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