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Alternative Names Return to topWeak pulse; Absent pulse
Definition Return to top
A weak pulse means you have difficulty feeling a person's pulse (heartbeat). An absent pulse means you cannot detect a pulse at all.
See also: CPR
Considerations Return to top
An absent or weak pulse may affect all or one part of the body.
If a pulse cannot be detected by a non-medical professional, it doesn't always mean there is a problem. Sometimes, it can be hard for a non-medical person to detect a pulse in certain areas.
Causes Return to top
Home Care Return to top
Follow the treatment your health care provider prescribes. CPR may be necessary.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if there is any sudden, severe, or long-lasting decrease in the pulse quality or rate, particularly when there are also other symptoms.
Shock is a life-threatening condition. Seek immediate medical help if you think someone has gone into shock. Start CPR, if needed.
A loss of consciousness or disorientation suggests that there is not enough blood getting to the brain. Seek medical help immediately.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
Your medical provider will take a medical history, do a physical exam, and ask questions such as:
Physical examination may include monitoring the vital signs (pulse, rate of breathing, blood pressure). Emergency measures will be taken as necessary. Continued monitoring may be necessary.
Diagnostic tests may include:
References Return to top
Fang JC, O'Gara PT. The history and physical examination: an evidence-based approach. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 11.
Schriger DL. Approach to the patient with abnormal vital signs. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 7.Update Date: 2/22/2009 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.