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The normal pulse rhythm is regular, meaning that the frequency of the pulsation felt by your fingers follows an even tempo with equal intervals between pulsations. If you compare this to music, it involves a constant beat that does not speed up or slow down, but stays at the same tempo. Thus, the interval between pulsations is the same. However, sinus arrhythmia is a common condition in children, adolescents, and young adults. Sinus arrhythmia involves an irregular pulse rhythm in which the pulse rate varies with the respiratory cycle: the heart rate increases at inspiration and decreases back to normal upon expiration. The underlying physiology of sinus arrhythmia is that the heart rate increases to compensate for the decreased stroke volume from the heart’s left side upon inspiration.
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Rationale: Irregularly irregular pulse rhythm is highly specific to atrial fibrillation.
Source: Vital Sign Measurement Across the Lifespan – 1st Canadian edition (https://opentextbc.ca/vitalsign/)
Operationalization: Counting 1 full minute permits a more accurate reading and allows assessment of pulse strength and rhythm.