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pulse

pulse Feeling the pulse is one of the hallmarks of the medical profession, and has been for many a century. As well as being informative, this action can give the doctor something physical to do while he takes time to think.

The pulse is most commonly felt where the radial artery lies near the surface on the thumb side of the wrist. It is made palpable by the ‘pulse pressure wave’ — initiated by each heart beat — reaching and expanding the artery. This wave is transmitted to the wrist at about 10 metres per second around forty times faster than the speed of the blood flow itself.

The information obtained from feeling the pulse is limited but important. The feel of the artery itself may suggest whether its wall has normal resilience, or is hardened and thickened by arteriosclerosis.

The pulse may feel, at one extreme, ‘strong’ and ‘full’ or, at the other, ‘weak’ or ‘thready’. These are indirect indications of the stroke volume of the heart. The impulse felt in the radial artery is related to the rise in arterial blood pressure generated by the heart at each beat — the pulse pressure. For any given stroke volume, this rise in pressure depends on the elasticity of the arteries: the more compliant they are the less the pressure rises; the stiffer they are with age and arteriosclerosis, the more sharply the pressure rises. These subtleties may be recognized by an experienced observer.

The rate may be faster or slower than normally expected in the circumstances. In healthy adults the rate at rest, although typically 60–70, can be anything from 40 per minute, say in an elite long-distance swimmer, to about 80 per minute. Even so the rate can, for example, be used to distinguish a simple faint (slow) from loss of consciousness caused by haemorrhage (fast).

The rhythm may be regular or irregular. In a person at rest an absolutely regular pulse is in fact unusual because of the phenomenon of respiratory sinus arrhythmia — an increase when breathing in and a decrease when breathing out. This is more marked in younger than in older people, and disappears at higher heart rates such as in exercise or in fever. This is a ‘regular irregularity’ and the pattern is generated from the normal physiological pacemaker, the sino–atrial node. There are other, abnormal disturbances of rhythm which are ‘irregular irregularities’; in this instance the rhythm is occasionally interrupted or persistently disorganized. Interruptions can either come in the form of extra heart beats, generated from a different part of the heart rather than from the sino–atrial node (ectopic beats), or else an occasional beat may be missed out entirely in mild forms of heart block. ‘My heart missed a beat’ is not just poetic licence: the sensation of missing a beat, in healthy people, is usually because of a longer gap after a premature ectopic beat. A totally disorganized rhythm is felt at the pulse in the condition of atrial fibrillation.

An exaggerated sensation of the beating of the heart — palpitation — may or may not be associated with a faster than normal pulse rate; it is also a normal accompaniment of the increase in strength and rate of the heart-beat induced by strenuous exercise, or by the sympathetic nervous systems in stressful conditions, and can be a component of abnormal anxiety states.

Awareness of pulsation within ourselves, particularly when emotions are heightened — and even at the earliest in our mother's womb — may well be inextricably related to the creation and appreciation of music.

Sheila Jennett


See also heart; medicine; music; pacemaker.

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"pulse." The Oxford Companion to the Body. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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pulse

pulse1 / pəls/ • n. a rhythmical throbbing of the arteries as blood is propelled through them, typically as felt in the wrists or neck: the doctor found a faint pulse. ∎  the rate of this throbbing, used to ascertain the rate of someone's heartbeat and so their state of health or emotions: the idea was enough to set my pulse racing. ∎  (usu. pulses) each successive throb of the arteries or heart. ∎  a single vibration or short burst of sound, electric current, light, or other wave: radio pulses | [as adj.] a pulse generator. ∎  a musical beat or other regular rhythm. ∎ fig. the central point of energy and organization in an area or activity: those close to the financial and economic pulse maintain that there have been fundamental changes. ∎  Biochem. a measured amount of an isotopic label given to a culture of cells. • v. [intr.] throb rhythmically; pulsate: a knot of muscles at the side of his jaw pulsed. ∎  [tr.] transmit in rhythmical beats: the sun pulsed fire into her eyes. ∎  [tr.] modulate (a wave or beam) so that it becomes a series of pulses. ∎  [tr.] apply a pulsed signal to (a device). ∎  Biochem. short for pulse-label. PHRASES: take (or feel) the pulse of determine the heart rate of (someone) by feeling and timing the pulsation of an artery: a nurse came in and took his pulse. ∎ fig. ascertain the general mood or opinion of: he hopped around the country to visit stores and take the pulse of consumers. DERIVATIVES: pulse·less adj. puls·er n. pulse2 • n. (usu. pulses) the edible seeds of various leguminous plants, for example chickpeas, lentils, and beans. ∎  the plant or plants producing such seeds.

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"pulse." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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pulse

pulse A transient change in voltage, current, or some other normally constant physical parameter. This transient consists of a transition from one level to another, followed, after a fixed time, by an opposite and often equal amplitude transition. The first edge to occur on a pulse is the leading edge, the second transition being the trailing edge.

For rectangular pulses the transitions should in theory be stepwise, i.e. instantaneous. In reality however they require a finite time in which to occur. For transitions from low to high voltage, current, etc., a convenient measure of this time is the rise time, defined as the time required for the pulse amplitude to rise from 10% to 90% of its maximum value (see diagram). The fall time is the time interval between the 10% point and the 90% point on the negative-going edge of the pulse.

The time interval between the leading and trailing edge of a rectangular pulse is called the pulse width. The pulse height is the amplitude of a pulse, usually its maximum to minimum voltage, current, etc., ignoring any short-duration spikes or low-amplitude ripple superimposed on the main pulse. See also ringing.

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pulse (in anatomy)

pulse, alternate expansion and contraction of artery walls as heart action varies blood volume within the arteries. Artery walls are elastic. Hence they become distended by increased blood volume during systole, or contraction of the heart. During diastole, or relaxation of the heart, blood volume in the arteries decreases and the walls contract, propelling the blood farther along the arterial pathway. The effect is that of a pressure wave initiated by the heartbeat and traveling from the aorta, the major artery leaving the heart, along the walls of all the other arteries. It takes about a quarter of a second for this wave to travel from the aorta to the arteries in the soles of the feet. The rate of heartbeat is equivalent to the pulse rate. Usually the pulse rate is determined by counting the pulsations per minute in the radial artery at the wrist. It may also be determined at any other artery point near the surface of the body. The normal rate is 70 to 90 pulsations per minute in adults, and 90 to 120 in children. Various diseases may be indicated by changes in the rate, rhythm, and force of the pulse.

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pulse

pulse Regular wave of raised pressure in arteries that results from the flow of blood pumped into them at each beat of the heart. The pulse is usually taken at the wrist to measure the heart rate, although it may be observed at any point where an artery runs close to the body surface, such as the neck. The average pulse rate is c.70 per minute in adults, but it varies with exercise or stimulants, such as caffeine.

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pulse

pulse (puls) n. a series of pressure waves within an artery caused by contractions of the left ventricle and corresponding with the heart rate. It is easily detected over certain superficial arteries (p. points – see illustration). The average adult pulse rate at rest is 60–80 per minute, but exercise, injury, illness, and emotion may produce much faster rates.

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pulse

pulse1 rhythmical dilatation of the arteries. XIV. ME. pous, pouce, later puls — OF. pous, later (latinized) pouls :— L. pulsus beating:- *pelssos f. base of pellere drive, beat.
So pulse vb. † drive; pulsate. XVI. — L. pulsāre, frequent. of pellere. pulsate XVIII, pulsation XVI. — L.

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"pulse." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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pulse

pulse (in physiology) A series of waves of dilation that pass along the arteries, caused by pressure of blood pumped from the heart through contractions of the left ventricle. In humans it can be felt easily where arteries pass close to the skin surface, e.g. at the wrist.

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pulse

pulse2 edible seeds of leguminous plants. XIII. ME. pols — OF. pols (mod. dial. poul(s), pou):— L. puls (pult-) thick pottage of meal or pulse (cf. Gr. póltos porridge), rel. to POLLEN. Latinized in form from XV.

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pulse

pulse
1. The edible seeds of any leguminous plant (Leguminosae)
.
2. An alternative term for an algal bloom
.
3. See PULSE LABELLING.

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Pulse

Pulse Trade name for capsules of fish oil rich in omega‐3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

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pulse

pulse
1. The edible seeds of any leguminous plant (Leguminosae).

2. See pulse labelling.

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pulse

pulse •Hals • rinkhals • valse • else • grilse •false, waltz •convulse, dulse, pulse •impulse

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