How To Read a Pulse Oximeter: Heart and Pulse Rate
portable pulse oximeter is a device that clips onto your finger and reads your
heart rate as well as the percent of oxygen in your blood. It was developed as
a way to detect hypoxia (a condition caused by insufficient oxygen). The
hemoglobin in your blood bonds to oxygen and carries it through your
circulatory system to your body's cells. A pulse oximeter works by emitting an
infrared light that shines through your body's tissue to a photosensor on the
other side. The infrared light is able to detect the amount of hemoglobin that
is saturated with (or carrying) oxygen. The pulse oximeter will display a
number that indicates the percent of hemoglobin that is saturated with oxygen.
A pulse oximeter reading (denoted by SpO2) in the high 90s (i.e. 96%-99%) is considered
normal. Here's how to read a pulse oximeter.
， Clip the pulse oximeter on.
The pulse oximeter must be clipped, like a clothespin, onto a part of your body
where light can shine through the blood flowing through your arteries. This
includes your finger (where the pulse oximeter is most commonly placed on
adults), toe, earlobe or across the bridge
of your nose. Because pulse oximetry so often occurs on the finger, these
devices are also commonly called a finger pulse oximeter.
， Ensure the pulse oximeter is
giving you an accurate reading. There
are some scenarios that will result in the pulse oximeter providing either an
inaccurate reading or no reading at all. A good way to determine whether the
pulse oximeter is providing an accurate reading is to compare the pulse rate on
the pulse oximeter to the pulse rate you get by taking the patient¨s pulse
manually. If they do not correspond, the likelihood is that you are not
getting an accurate reading form your pulse oximeter. Some common scenarios
that result in an erroneous reading include:
Nail polish, if the pulse
oximeter is clipped on a finger.
， Excessive movement by the
， Hypothermia or a cold injury to
， Anemia (not enough iron in the
， Carbon monoxide poisoning
， Certain types of seizures
， Shock (hypoperfusion)
associated with blood loss or poor perfusion
， Remain still.
As noted above, excessive movement can result in the pulse oximeter providing
you with an inaccurate reading. Try to remain relatively still while the pulse
oximeter is taking its reading.
， Assess the results.
A normal reading, for a person breathing room air, is in the high 90s. A
reading of anywhere from 96% SpO2 through 99% SpO2 is typically not cause for
alarm. A reading of 95% SpO2 or less could indicate hypoxia and should be
investigated. An SpO2 reading of 90% or less indicates significant hypoxia and
requires immediate action.
Your pulse oximeter will also
record your heart rate. Normal heart rates are as follows, depicted in beats
per minute (bpm):
， Elderly Person (75+): Normal -
， Adult: Normal - 60-80 / Rapid -
100+ / Slow - below 60
， Adolescent: Normal - 60-105 /
Rapid - 105+ / Slow - below 50
， Child (5-12 years): Normal -
60-120 / Rapid - 120+ / Slow - below 60
， Child (1-5 years): Normal -
80-150 / Rapid - 150+ / Slow below 80
， Infant: Normal - 120-150 /
Rapid - 150+ / Slow - below 120
Having a heart rate monitor on hand can be convenient when exercising as
well. You want to be sure that when you work out, you're keeping a
healthy heart rate. You can
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read a pulse oximeter, you can check to make sure that you and your family have
normal heart and pulse rates while exercising or when at rest
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