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skill question

Kendra Kendra (New) New

Hi! I feel silly for asking but way back in nursing school(6 years ago) we were never taught how to palpate a blood pressure or anything related to it. What does it tell you? How do you DO it? Why would you do it? Is it accurate? I'm thinking of doing a CCU training class & don't want to appear foolish if asked about this. I appreciate your feedback..



Has 17 years experience. Specializes in Critical Care, Psych, Transport.

One thing that I know for sure if you can palpate a femoral pulse, then you have a blood pressure of at least 60 systolic. Sometimes if you can not hear a pressure using the cuff then you can accurately palpate a systolic in the arms. Hope this helps.


first of all, never feel silly or stupid for asking questions in a class. extra education is always good. another class i would recommend is ACLS-advanced cardiac life support. to answer your question though, i was taught in TNCC, that if you could palpate a radial pulse, your BP was a least 80, a carotid-60. if a pt's BP is real low or weak, it's difficult to hear and palpating a radial or brachial artery as you let the cuff down will give you a systolic BP. you can't get an accurate diastolic, that's why someone will say the pt's BP is 80 palp. i think it's pretty accurate because as the cuff let's down off of the artery and blood goes through, that's when you feel the beat (verses hearing it). most of the time you would use this technique in an emergency situation- the pt passed out in the chair after his first time up- probably is BP is real low and difficult to hear or takes to long to try to hear it, so you palpate for the artery as you let the cuff down and the first beat you feel is the number you record off that syph..whatever (mercury thing). good luck hope this was somewhat helpful, everybody learns something different so i hope you get more responses. think about ACLS if you don't already have it

Moore RN, C, TNCC


Has 36 years experience.

I agree with above respondent about how to do a palpated blood pressure. An auscultated blood pressure does not give you as much information about the cv status because you get no diastolic, but it is a measure you will see in the very critical patient and it is a way of saying that someone is so unstable that we could not auscultate a blood pressure, but we could palpate one and the systolic is "x". It becomes part of your trend data. An improving patient will eventually have an auscultatable blood pressure; a declining patient needs rapid problem solving for why they don't have a BP (arrythmia, bleeding, shock). Good question.

another reason you might have palpate a blood pressure (in an emergency situation)...you can't find your stethoscope!!!!! We all have things that we know are "basic" that we never really learned or understood. once you get to talking about it with other nurses, you find you are not alone!!!



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