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Vital signs (also known as vitals) are a group of the four to six most important medical signs that indicate the status of the bodys vital (life-sustaining) functions. These measurements are taken to help assess the general physical health of a person, give clues to possible diseases, and show progress toward recovery. The normal ranges for a persons vital signs vary with age, weight, gender, and overall health. There are four primary vital signs: body temperature, blood pressure, pulse (heart rate), and breathing rate (respiratory rate), often notated as BT, BP, HR, and RR. However, depending on the clinical setting, the vital signs may include other measurements called the 'fifth vital sign' or 'sixth vital sign'. Vital signs are recorded using the LOINC internationally accepted standard coding system. Early warning scores have been proposed that combine the individual values of vital signs into a single score. This was done in recognition that deteriorating vital signs often precede cardiac arrest and/or admission to the intensive care unit. Used appropriately, a rapid response team can assess and treat a deteriorating patient and prevent adverse outcomes. Primary vital signs There are four primary vital signs which are standard in most medical settings:Body temperatureHeart rate or PulseRespiratory rateBlood pressureThe equipment needed is a thermometer, a sphygmomanometer, and a watch. Although a pulse can be taken by hand, a stethoscope may be required for a patient with a very weak pulse. = Temperature =Temperature recording gives an indication of core body temperature which is normally tightly controlled (thermoregulation) as it affects the rate of chemical reactions. Body temperature is maintained through a balance of the heat produced by the body and the heat lost from the body.
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