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What Are the Primary Patient Vital Signs, and What Are Their Normal Ranges?

Vital signs are an important part of monitoring the status of an adult or child patient during hospitalization because they allow for the early discovery of delayed recovery or adverse outcomes. The vital signs of a patient are measured to provide fundamental markers of their health status. If the readings are outside of a normal range, they may indicate dysfunction or a disease state.


Why do we check patient vital signs?

Vital signs are a series of measurements used by healthcare providers to assess the basic functions of the body and evaluate the patient's overall health status. These measurements help identify abnormalities that may indicate the presence of an illness or disease affecting the patient's organ systems. By monitoring vital signs, healthcare providers are able to detect potential disorders, track the progression of a disease, and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment.


What is the normal range of these vital signs?

Body temperature, blood pressure, pulse, oxygen level and breathing rate are the five main vital indicators that are commonly measured in a clinical setting. The normal ranges for these indicators can vary depending on factors such as age, gender, weight, and activity level. However, the medical community generally agrees on what is considered normal for adults in general.

It's important to note that these ranges are general guidelines and may vary depending on the individual and the specific measurement method used. Your healthcare provider is best equipped to interpret your vital signs in light of your personal health history and any other relevant information.


Body Temperature

The average body temperature is 98.6 Fahrenheit, but a healthy person's usual temperature can range from 97.8 to 99.1 Fahrenheit or slightly higher. A thermometer put into the mouth, anus, or positioned under the armpit is used to assess body temperature.

The readings will differ depending on where it was measured.

  • Oral: The average oral temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but normal ranges from 97 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit usually implies an infection or illness.
  • Axillary: An armpit temperature is normally half to one degree lower than an oral temperature.
  • Tympanic: An ear temperature is normally half to one degree higher than the oral temperature.

Hypothermia is described as a dip in body temperature below 95 Fahrenheit. Remember that temperature might fluctuate owing to factors other than illness or infection.

Also, body temperature can be affected by stress, dehydration, exercise, being in a hot or cold environment, consuming a hot or cold beverage, and thyroid diseases. Older folks may be ill without ever showing signs of fever because they can not control their body temperature, as well as younger adults.


Blood Pressure

The pressure or force of blood against the walls of your arteries is measured as blood pressure. Blood pressure is expressed as two numbers, for example, 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

  • The first figure, systolic pressure, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and pumps blood out to the body.
  • The second number is the diastolic pressure, which measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.

A healthy blood pressure value for an adult, relaxed at rest, is less than 120/80 mm Hg. Prehypertension is defined as a systolic BP of 120-139 or a diastolic pressure of 80-89 and should be continuously monitored.

  • A measurement of 140/90 mm Hg or greater is called hypertension (high blood pressure). Blood pressure that remains high for an extended period of time can lead to health issues such as atherosclerosis (artery hardening), heart failure, and stroke.



The amount of times your heart beats each minute is known as your pulse. Pulse rates differ from one person to the next. When you are at rest, your pulse rate is lower; when you exercise, it rises (because more oxygen-rich blood is needed by the body when you exercise).

  • A healthy adult's resting pulse rate varies from 60 to 80 beats per minute.
  • Women's pulse rates are often faster than men's.

Your pulse can be measured by firmly but gently pressing the first and second fingertips against specific points on the body — most commonly the wrist or neck (but it can also be measured at the bend of the arms, in the groin, behind the knees, inside the ankles, on the top of the feet, or at the temple area of the face) — and counting the number of heart beats over a 60-second period.

  • A faster-than-normal pulse might signal a variety of health issues, including infection, dehydration, stress, anxiety, a thyroid illness, shock, anemia, or certain heart abnormalities.


Oxygen Level

Oxygen level, also known as oxygen saturation, is an indicator how much oxygen is bound to hemoglobin and available for the tissues to use. Normal oxygen levels are greater than 92% on room air and can be impacted by elevation and overall health status.

A resting oxygen saturation of less than 92%  is deemed abnormal

Asthma, pneumonia, congestive heart failure and complication of opioid administration that can slow a patient’s respiratory rate. 


Respiratory Rate

The number of breaths taken per minute is referred to as a person's respiratory rate. An adult's resting breathing rate is 12 to 20 breaths per minute.

  • A resting respiration rate of less than 12 or more than 20 breaths per minute is deemed abnormal.

Asthma, anxiety, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, lung illness, narcotic usage, or drug overdose are all factors that might alter a normal respiratory rate.


Continuous Vital Sign Monitoring Solutions

Continuous vital sign monitoring is crucial in healthcare settings to ensure the timely detection of clinical deterioration. Traditional methods of intermittent monitoring with Early Warning Scores can fall short due to overworked and understaffed nursing staff. The ViSi Mobile system offers a solution by providing real-time notifications to clinical staff and helping to improve patient outcomes. 

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