Your heart doctor will use some standard and simple techniques to gain the first clues to your heart's function.
Your doctor feels your pulse in order to check your heart's rate, rhythm and regularity. Each pulse matches up with a heartbeat that pumps blood into the arteries. The force of the pulse also helps evaluate the amount (strength) of blood flow to different areas of your body.
You can tell how fast your heart is beating (heart rate) by feeling your pulse. Your heart rate is the amount of times your heart beats in one minute.
To measure your pulse, you need a watch with a second hand.
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Your doctor listens to your heart with the aid of a stethoscope. The opening and closing of your valves make sounds ("lub dub") known as the heart sounds. The doctor can evaluate your heart and valve function and hear your heart's rate and rhythm by listening to your heart sounds.
Blood pressure is the force or pressure exerted in the arteries by the blood as it is pumped around the body by the heart. It is recorded as two measurements:
A doctor or nurse can listen to your blood pressure by placing a stethoscope on your artery and pumping up a cuff placed around your arm. The blood pressure is read on a special meter called a sphygmomanometer.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), which refers to how high the pressure in the arteries can raise a column of mercury in the sphygmomanometer.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/01/2019.
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