Vital Signs: What Are They? What are they for?

which express the general conditions of the person. The most important are four and, taken as a whole, they are indicative of the normal or altered functionality of the organism.


In clinical practice, vital signs are detected and / or monitored to assess a person's basic health status, provide clues to possible problems, identify any needs, monitor response to certain medical interventions, and show progress towards recovery.

of a patient;
  • Identify the presence of problems, anomalies or any needs;
  • Monitor the patient's condition and evaluate the response to some therapeutic or assistance interventions.
  • The body temperature provides an "indication of the set point value, regulated by the hypothalamus and kept constant through a balance between thermogenesis (production of heat by the body, as a by-product of the chemical transformations that continuously occur in all cells) and heat dispersion ( body heat transfer). Thermoregulation therefore influences the metabolism.

    The main reason for checking body temperature is to detect any signs of systemic infection or inflammation in the presence of fever or to ascertain hyperthermia. Evaluation of this vital parameter also serves to establish hypothermia (temperature below 35 ° C).

    The normal temperature of an adult is in the range of 36.4-37.2 ° C. The body points commonly used in the clinic for measuring body temperature are the rectum, armpit, oral cavity, ear and skin surface, considering that the values ​​differ slightly. For example: the rectal temperature measures about 0.2-0.5 ° C more than the sublingual one, while the axillary temperature is equal to 36.6 ° C ± 0.5 ° C, therefore slightly lower than that central which is constantly maintained around 37 ° C with a certain variation between individuals (for this reason, the body temperature considered normal is within a range of 36.4-37.2 ° C).

    • Blood pressure


    Blood pressure can be defined as the pressure that blood exerts against the elastic walls of arterial vessels. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in adults in normal conditions, the minimum and maximum blood pressure does not exceed respectively 90 and 140 mmHg; we speak of severe hypertension if these values ​​exceed respectively 110 and 180 mmHg, while "Severe hypotension is defined as decreasing below 60 and 90 mmHg, respectively.

    • Pulse (heart rate)

    The pulse is the vital parameter that provides information on the heart rate (number of beats per minute of the heart) and its rhythm. In practice, it is the transient dilation of an artery due to the variation of its internal pressure. The pulse is, therefore, an indicator of cardiac activity due to the deformation that the walls of the great arteries undergo in conjunction with the cardiac cycle: of beats and quality of pulsations corresponds to a more or less efficient cardiocirculatory function.

    • Breath frequency

    Respiratory rate is the number of breaths per minute. The normal value for an adult at rest is between 12 and 20 breaths per minute, so a rate below 12 or above 25 is considered abnormal. Conditions that can change a normal respiratory rate include asthma, anxiety, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and lung disease.

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