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Cardio Exam

Respiratory Rate

March 4th, 2023


The respiratory rate is an important vital sign that is an early marker of deterioration.
The diaphragm has both somatic and autonomic innervation, and thus the respiratory rate can be altered both voluntarily and and involuntarily in response to physiologic or pathologic stimuli.
    • Normal Range

    • 12 - 20 breaths per minute
  • How to Measure

  • Count the patient's breaths over 30 seconds to one minute while ostensibly measuring the pulse.


Tachypnoea is an increase in the respiratory rate.
  • Causes of Tachypnoea

  • Physiologic - during exercise or at high altitude
  • Anxiety
  • Metabolic acidosis - abdominal pathology, sepsis
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma
  • Respiratory failure


Bradypnoea refers to a reduction in respiratory rate.
  • Causes of Bradypnoea

  • Respiratory suppression
  • Drugs - opiates
  • Respiratory failure
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Raised intracranial pressure
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