This vital signs calculator compares the heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and temperature with normal ranges for adults. In the text below the form you can find more information on which are the primary and secondary vital signs and on their normal values.
How does the vital signs calculator work?
This health tool compares patient vital signs with normal range values and offers a quick interpretation in regard to whether these are below, within or above normal.
The generally recognized primary vital signs and also the ones used for comparison in the vital signs calculator are the following:
■ Heart rate – in beats per minute, also known as pulse, checkable at the radial artery or carotid artery.
■ Respiratory rate – per minute, countable over 60 seconds.
■ Blood pressure – both systolic and diastolic pressure in mmHg, taken with a sphygmomanometer.
■ Temperature – in degrees Celsius, measured with a thermometer.
The short versions of the above are HR, RR, BP and BT.
Vital signs definition and usage
Vitals represent a group of generally four but up to six important signs that quickly offer information on the patient’s functions. Vital is defined as life sustaining.
These are measurements that can be performed easily, some without, others with readily available clinical equipment. Most vary with age, gender while others vary also with weight and overall health.
Monitoring vital signs is essential in showing how the patient progresses.
■ Heart rate measurement shows the rate at which the heart beats, i.e. pumps blood through the arteries. It differs widely with age in children but remains similar in adults of both genders.
■ Respiratory rate.
■ Blood pressure – consists of the two readings, the high for systolic and low for diastolic. Normal values are considered to be around 120 mmHg for systolic and 80 mmHg for diastolic. Values elevated above 140 mmHg are indicative of hypertension.
■ Temperature taking initially checks for signs of infection or inflammation (fever) or hypothermia then is recorded to establish a baseline for the patient’s normal temperature.
Beside the above four, there are discussions about a fifth and sixth vital sign. Some organizations consider pain as the fifth sign when measured on a pain scale. Subject reporting is considered to be unreliable.
The sixth sign is more dependent on the specialty in which the patient is treated, and can vary between:
■ Pulse oximetry;
■ End tidal CO2;
■ Functional status;
■ Shortness of breath.
Table with normal range for all adult vital signs:
|Heart rate||60 – 100 bpm|
|Respiratory rate||12 – 18 /min|
|Systolic BP||96 – 140 mmHg|
|Diastolic BP||60 – 90 mmHg|
|Temperature||36.3 – 37.2 Celsius|
The assessment of vital signs is included in emergency room systems such as the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) which incorporates all signs in one score to provide an overall health status.
1) Kyriacos U, Jelsma J, Jordan S. (2011) Monitoring vital signs using early warning scoring systems: a review of the literature. J Nurs Manag. 2011 Apr;19(3):311-30.
2) Armstrong B, Walthall H, Clancy M, Mullee M, Simpson H. (2008) Recording of vital signs in a district general hospital emergency department. Emerg Med J. 2008 Dec;25(12):799-802.
3) Mower WR, Sachs C, Nicklin EL, Baraff LJ. (1997) Pulse oximetry as a fifth pediatric vital sign. Pediatrics; 99(5):681-6.
4) Bierman AS. (2001) Functional status: the six vital sign. J Gen Intern Med; 16(11):785-6.
5) Holcomb JB, Salinas J, McManus JM, Miller CC, Cooke WH, Convertino VA. (2005) Manual vital signs reliably predict need for life-saving interventions in trauma patients. J Trauma; 59(4):821-8; discussion 828-9.31 Aug, 2016