SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Taking pulse. A nurse takes a pulse measurement by hand from the wrist of a female patient in bed in a private hospital room. The nurse is looking at her watch while holding two fingers on the patient's wrist. The pulse is a series of pressure waves of blood travelling through the arteries, corresponding to the beats of the heart. Measuring its rate can give clues about the patient's state of health. The average rate for a healthy adult at rest is 60-80 per minute. This rises as a result of anxiety, injury, exercise and illness. An abnormal rate, or a weak or irregular pulse, may indicate a heart disorder, diseased or obstructed blood vessels, or shock.
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