What do Vital Signs Consist of?


Blog8-heartbeatAnytime you go to the doctor, typically the first things that the Medical Assistant begins to measure are your Vital Signs. Do you know what Vital Signs are and what the normal range for an average adult should be?

Vital signs typically consist of four primary readings:

  • Temperature– the baseline for the body’s core temperature at which it functions under normal conditions. The body and its systems are constantly burning energy and temperature is tightly controlled. This process is called Thermoregulation. The average adult temperature is approximately 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The purpose for checking body temperature is to check for an increased temperature; which is an indication that the body is fighting and infection.
  • Pulse/Heart Rate– the expansion/contraction of an artery and is typically measured on the body at the wrist or ankle. The measure is counted in beats per minute and the average for an adult is 50-80 beats per minute.
  • Blood Pressure– consists of two readings, a high systolic reading (which occurs when the heart contracts) and a lower diastolic reading (which occurs when the heart is at rest). A normal reading for an adult would be 120 systolic over 80 diastolic.
  • Respiratory Rate– the process of breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide. The average respiratory rate for an adult is 16-20 breaths per minute.

In addition to the basic four primary vital sign readings, physicians typically require Medical Assistants to also include readings for height and weight as a measure for general health and BMI (Body Mass Index).

  • Height-is measured in inches with your shoes removed. Height is monitored for infants/toddlers/adolescents to ensure they are on the correct growth curve. For adults, height is monitored as an indication for bone loss during the beginning stages of osteoporosis.
  • Weight-is measured in pounds and determines total body weight. This number can be used in conjunction with your height to determine your BMI (Body Mass Index), which can determine on a general scale, if one is underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. Keep in mind that the BMI does not calculate muscle weight vs. fat weight.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to take vital signs or wondered what it would be like to have a career as a Medical Assistant or Nurse? Arizona College offers a Medical Assisting degree and diploma programs, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Make a change in your future, and Contact Arizona College today to learn more about our degree and diploma programs offered at our Glendale and Mesa campuses.

Information in this blog post is accurate as of September 8, 2014.