Cardiovascular Assessment

The heart can be a very complicated organ if it wants to be. There are your four heart valves, four chambers, septums, and arteries and veins attached to complicate things even more. The heart is also one of the most fascinating organs because of the ability it has to pump thousands of gallons of blood through your body every day. 

Here are the things to think about in your basic cardiac assessment: Assess the patient's heart tones. Is there a clear S1/S2 (meaning the "lub dub" sound)? Are there any murmurs (not a clear "lub dub" from issues with heart valves), rubs (sounds like friction of heart rubbing), or gallops (sounds like a horse gallopping)? What is the patient's heart rate and rhythm? How is the patient's blood pressure? Are they on any medications to affect their blood pressure? How are their radial and pedal pulses? What is their capillary refill time? Do they have a temperature? Are they flushed? Does the patient have any edema? Are they wearing sequential compression devices to prevent deep venous thrombi from forming? What IVs does the patient have? What is infusing through them?

An example of my assessment might be: This patient is in a sinus tachycardia with a heart rate of 105-110 beats per minute. He has a clear S1/S2 with no murmurs, rubs, or gallops heard. His blood pressure has been around 110/75 and he is on Midodrine to keep his BP up. He has 2+ pulses in his radial and pedal arteries. His capillary refill time is 4 seconds and he is pale. He has no edema and is wearing SCDs to prevent DVTs from forming. His last temperature was 101.8. He has an 18 gauge IV in his left lower arm infusing normal saline at 100 ml/hr.