Vital Signs Heart Rate

Variations of the heart rate (HR) or rhythm are relatively common in the newborn period and, if isolated, are usually benign. HR abnormalities fall into one of two main categories: tachycardia (HR >180 beats/min) and bradycardia (HR <80 beats/min). Persistent tachycardia is abnormal and should be evaluated for conditions such as sepsis, anemia, hypoxemia, hypovolemia, and hyperthermia. Persistent bradycardia is abnormal and may be associated with sepsis, asphyxia of the fetus, hypoxemia, congenital heart block, increased intracranial pressure, and hypothyroidism (Hoekelman, 2001, Thureen et al., 2005).

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