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Protect your heart: Important vitals that affect the heart

What are vital signs?

Vital signs are important indicators of one's overall health. It helps the health professional to know what's going on in a patient's body.

The commonly measured vital signs include:

  • Body Temperature

  • Blood Pressure

  • Heart Rate (Pulse)

  • Respiration Rate

  • Oxygen Level/Oxygen Saturation

When are vital signs measured?

Vital signs are measured when you visit the clinics to get to know what's happening in your body.

  • If the patient is severely ill vital signs are monitored continuously.

  • It is also measured when patients are consuming various medications that can affect vital signs.

  • It is also monitored before and after any operations.

  • It is even measured if you had an incident such as a fall, dizziness, or many other symptoms.

Importance of measuring vital signs

Measuring this consistently helps to establish a baseline for the patient.

They can act as a warning sign. It keeps fluctuating with the person's condition, such as if he/she is not well, consuming certain medications, or going through any stress or pain.

Vital signs need to be measured as they can keep varying through growing age or lifestyle changes.

Vital signs that can affect the heart:

Body temperature

Measuring a person's body temperature is specifically useful for identifying any possible fever, hyperthermia, or hypothermia.

In a healthy adult, the normal body temperature lies between 97.8 degrees Fahrenheit to 99 degrees Fahrenheit or 36.5 degrees C to 36.5 degrees C.

However, this can deviate depending on the gender, recent activity, time of day, women, the stage of the menstrual cycle, when exposed to high heat, any food or fluid consumption, physical work, or sports.

In some organs, the temperatures are higher than the average normal body temperature for e.g., in the heart it is about 38.8 degree Celsius, and even higher in the liver.

Body temperature can be measured on the following sites by using a special, glass or digital thermometer:

  • Orally: Placing thermometer in mouth.

  • Rectally: Through the anus.

  • Axillary: Temperature is taken from the armpit.

  • By ear.

  • Skin.

Core body temperature is said to be too low when the temperature is below 35 degree Celsius, the term is known as Hypothermia.

Whereas when the temperature is too high above 37.5 degrees Celsius then it is known as Hyperthermia.

This body temperature affects your heart when you are exposed to high heat which increases the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke and can also place a burden on heart health. It occurs when it mostly stresses the cardiovascular system and makes the heart work harder, which may increase the risk such as heart attacks, heart failure, or irregular heartbeat.

Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure is one of the important vital signs of the human body because the reading of someone's blood pressure can help indicate whether there is any underlying illness a patient is suffering from.

Blood pressure is created by the heart beating around the body creating energy and pressure. It is measured using a blood pressure monitor which consists of 2 numbers one is systolic and the other is diastolic. Systolic is the number on top which means it is the pressure caused when the heart contracts and pushes out the blood. Diastolic is the bottom number which means the pressure when the heart relaxes and fills with blood between heartbeats.

The readings are reported as the systolic bp number over diastolic bp number such as normal range 120/80 mmHg.

When this regular reading is above 140 over 90 it is called high blood pressure or hypertension and when blood pressure is lower than 90 over 60 it is known as low blood pressure or hypotension.


For hypotension: Weakness, nausea, fatigue, fainting, etc. Hypertension: It does not show symptoms, but it directly leads to severe conditions such as stroke, kidney disease, heart attack, etc.

Equipment used to detect blood pressure are aneroid monitors or digital monitors.

Blood pressure affects the heart when the rise in blood pressure forces the heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body parts. The thickened left ventricle increases the risk of heart failure or sudden cardiac death.

Heart Rate

Heart rate is the frequency of the heartbeat measured by the number of contractions of the heart per minute.

Heart rate measurement is done by most health care professionals to aid in the diagnosis, and for the follow-up of several medical conditions including heart diseases.

The normal resting heart rate for adults is between 60 and 100 bpm (beats per minute).

The rate can vary within the normal range, it may increase in response to a variety of changes including exercise, emotional triggers, body position, and body temperature.

Maintaining a normal heart rate for protecting heart health few steps can be followed by an individual: Reducing stress can contribute to an increase in heart rate or blood pressure. A person can practice yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness training to help reduce stress.

Losing weight- More the weight, the harder the heart has to work to provide oxygen and nutrients to all the areas of the body.

Avoiding tobacco or quitting smoking can increase the heart rate. Various factors can increase heart rate, mainly thyroid hormones, decreased potassium and sodium, etc.

Other factors that decrease heart rate such as a decrease in body temperature, altered sodium and potassium levels, etc.

Fluctuations can also be due to dehydration, over-caffeination, chronic stress, and medications.

Electronic measurements used to know the heart rate: ECG (Electrocardiogram) is a precise method used in hospitals or clinics to determine heart rate.

Heart rate monitors are also available and used by people to monitor heart rate continuously, they can be used during exercise where manual measurement is not possible. Various commercial heart rate monitors are also available.

Heart rate matters as the heart circulates oxygen and other nutrient-rich blood throughout the body. When this is not working properly everything will be affected. Heart rate is central to this process because the function of the heart is directly related to stroke volume and heart rate.

Respiration rate

Respiratory rate is the number of breaths a person takes each minute.

It is usually measured when a person is resting rather than in a stressful situation.

Typically, respiratory rate can be measured by counting the number of times the chest rises and falls.

The normal respiratory rate for healthy adults is between 12-20 beats per minute.

A respiration rate under 12 or over 25 breaths per minute while resting may be a sign of an underlying health condition.

Terms used are:

Tachypnea- the term 'tachypnea' is used when the respiratory rate is more than 20 beats per minute which can take place in various physiological conditions like pregnancy, emotional changes, exercise, and also in some pathological conditions such as pain, asthma, and pneumonia.

Bradypnea- a condition when the respiratory rate is less than 12 breaths/minute which can occur due to any respiratory conditions leading to respiratory failure due to the consumption of alcohol, or narcotics.

Apnea- When there is total cessation of breathing which may appear in cardiopulmonary arrests.

Dyspnea- When there is difficult or labored breathing.

Signs of respiratory distress can be grunting (the sound is heard each time the person exhales), there may be a color change of the skin, also trouble breathing as an increase in the number of breaths per minute may indicate that a person is not getting enough oxygen or sweating.

Oxygen level/oxygen saturation

Oxygen saturation is considered an essential element during assessing a patient. It refers to the percentage of oxygen circulating in an individual's body. As it is measured in percentage- 95 to 100 is considered normal. It is measured using a pulse oximeter.

Not having enough oxygen in your blood is known as hypoxemia and it can lead to many complications in the brain, liver, and heart.

Signs of low oxygen:

Blue tinge to the skin- In some cases, a person can find a color change in the skin as it may show up a bluish color or tinge in the skin. It happens mostly when enough oxygen is not reaching the tissues usually accompanied by shortness of breath.

Confusion- caused by enough oxygen not reaching the brain makes you feel lethargic and tired too. This mostly happens due to deficiency in Vitamin B1, and consuming too much-refined foods and sugar.

Regular headaches- When the blood has a low oxygen level it compensates by putting pressure and widening the blood vessels which may trigger painful headaches or cause migraine problems.

Chest pain- This can occur in people having Vitamin E deficiency as it tends to suffer from low blood oxygen levels.

Treatments involved for hypoxemia include the use of medications such as diuretics that helps you to get rid of excess fluid in the lungs, and the use of inhalers and bronchodilators to help people with lung disease such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

If levels of oxygen in the blood decrease due to any poisoning or loss of normal lung function, the heart can receive deoxygenated blood which results in damaging the heart muscles, triggering a heart attack.


Health professionals use vital signs as a key indicator when examining patients to look for underlying medical issues. Monitoring is essential because it can result in a number of serious issues. It is now simple to monitor them at home as well as at clinics or hospitals thanks to a variety of medical devices. You can maintain your health and fitness for life by keeping your vital indicators within range.

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