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View Full Version : Why shouldn't I use my thumb to take my pulse?


Lobsang
01-28-2005, 02:22 PM
I remember being told this on more than one occasion at school. Something to do with the pulse in the thumb interfering with the pulse in the wrist or neck.

But when I compare my pulse taken with the correct fingers with my pulse taken with my thumb I can't tell the difference. There seems to be no interference at all.


Heck, why use any digits at all? I can see my pulse!

JerH
01-28-2005, 02:27 PM
I don't think you're supposed to be able to see your pulse - do you have excessively high blood pressure?

The bit about the thumb is that is *can* interfere - that doesn't mean it always does. The blood vessel in the thumb isn't as close to the surface, so the pulse in your wrist or neck should be stronger in most cases.

Captain Amazing
01-28-2005, 02:31 PM
Your thumb has a pulse, just like your wrist and your neck do. In fact, your doctor's office probably has a machine to measure your pulse using your thumb. So, if you use your thumb to measure somebody else's pulse, you won't get an accurate reading, because you'll feel your pulse as well as his.

Lobsang
01-28-2005, 02:31 PM
I didn't have high blood pressure last time I was checked. And I could see my pulse then. I have to orient my wrist in a certain way to do it but I see the skin move at the rate of a pulse. I have particularly good short eyesight.

Lobsang
01-28-2005, 02:33 PM
Your thumb has a pulse, just like your wrist and your neck do. In fact, your doctor's office probably has a machine to measure your pulse using your thumb. So, if you use your thumb to measure somebody else's pulse, you won't get an accurate reading, because you'll feel your pulse as well as his.

Therein lies the clue to my mistake. I'm measuring my own pulse. Which should 'synchronise' and not interfere :smack:

treis
01-28-2005, 02:43 PM
I don't think you're supposed to be able to see your pulse - do you have excessively high blood pressure?


Mines 110/70 and if I suck my stomach in I can see a pulse below my ribcage in synch with my heart beat.

The Controvert
01-28-2005, 02:52 PM
Just wanted to chime in that I can see my own pulse at the wrist, also. (but very near the hand, not where I would take my pulse) I do not have high blood pressure.

bouv
01-28-2005, 03:13 PM
Your thumb has a pulse, just like your wrist and your neck do. In fact, your doctor's office probably has a machine to measure your pulse using your thumb. So, if you use your thumb to measure somebody else's pulse, you won't get an accurate reading, because you'll feel your pulse as well as his.


Actually, they can use any finger, not just the thumb (usually the middle or ring finger.) It doesn't do it based on pressure, though, it uses light. It's also how they get you're SpO2, or the amount of oxygen in your blood.

sunstone
01-28-2005, 06:29 PM
The pulse is visible at several places on the body, given the correct lighting and assuming normal body fat. An easily seen one is on the foot where there is an artery that is relatively shallow (Most of the blood vessels that you see are veins, and don't have a pulse). It is located just posterior to the medial malleolus (what is commonly called the ankle bone) - that bony projection located on the inner or big toe side of the lower leg. The medial malleolus is actually part of the tibia, or shin bone.

Basically, when you take your pulse, you are simply feeling the expansion of the artery as it swells with the blood sent out by the heart with each beat. If you can, imagine every artery and arteriole in your body swelling and contracting with each heart beat! Wouldn't that be cool if we could actually see it!

You can also feel a pulse on the top of the arch of the foot, and in many other places on the body.

But make sure that you dont use your thumb - use the index and/or the middle finger - and if you are checking your carotid pulse, don't take both sides at the same time, as there are receptors located in the blood vessels, and if you press on both sides at the same time you can alter your blood pressure and heart rate.