Archive for Apical pulse

Heart Lessons

According to the chart, a new patient we were discussing in the weekly team meeting had a “rapid apical pulse.”

“Hey, could someone explain to an ignorant chaplain what an ‘apical pulse’ is?”

Saved by a chaplain!! I was glad someone as befuddled as me asked about that medical term!

PulsesSeveral nurses responded, and soon at least two clueless people in the meeting learned that taking a patient’s pulse with the stethoscope’s drum (or chestpiece) placed properly over the heart provides medical professionals with the loudest and most distinctive pulse rate. Checking the wrist is known as a radial pulse and pressing fingers (gently, please) against the neck detects the carotid pulse.

The heart beats and blood flows. There is sound, faint or strong. There is movement, slow or fast. Hearing the heart’s work is one of the oldest ways for discerning health. One of my earliest memories of trips to the doctor involved a lab-coated person uncurling the stethoscope from around his (when young, it was always a man in a white coat) neck and listening to my heart. Some doctors warmed the drum before touching my skin. Some—brrrr!—did not. Whether thoughtful or thoughtless about cold metal on sensitive skin, the doctor then listened to me, to my heart, to the flow of my life. Read More →

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