Temperature, Breathing Rate, Pulse, and Blood PressureByDeborah Leader, RNDeborah Leader, RNDeborah Leader RN, PHN, is a registered nurse and medical writer who focuses on COPD.Learn about our editorial processUpdated on March 01, 2022Medically reviewedVerywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.bySanja Jelic, MD Medically reviewed bySanja Jelic, MD
Sanja Jelic, MD, is board-certified in sleep medicine, critical care medicine, pulmonary disease, and internal medicine.Learn about our Medical Review BoardTable of ContentsView AllTable of Contents
Vital signs are measurements of the body’s most basic functions—body temperature, rate of respiration (breathing), pulse rate, and blood pressure. Medical professionals use these four measurements in numerous ways, and variations from normal adult vital signs can prove to be important in assessing one’s general health, indicating disease, and monitoring the effectiveness of treatment.
Compared to high-tech medical tests, measuring a person’s vital signs is relatively simple and straightforward, requiring little more than basic medical equipment—a thermometer, stethoscope, blood pressure cuff—and a stopwatch or other timing device. The information that can be gained can, in some cases, be a matter of life and death, or at least sickness and health.
Although factors such as age, sex, weight, and activity level can play a role in what an individual’s vital signs might indicate, there is agreement across the medical community about what’s normal for adults in general.