How to auscultate for heart sounds in adults
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How to auscultate for heart sounds in adults

Sara Morgan Lecturer, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, Mid Glamorgan, Wales

Rationale and key points

This article aims to improve nurses’ knowledge and understanding of the procedure for auscultating heart sounds in adults, as part of a cardiovascular examination. It focuses on auscultating normal heart sounds; it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss the pathophysiology of abnormal findings.

A stethoscope is used to auscultate for heart sounds. The diaphragm of the stethoscope is used to identify high-pitched sounds, while the bell is used to identify low-pitched sounds.

There are two normal heart sounds that should be elicited in auscultation: S1 (lub) and S2 (dub).

The practitioner should listen over each of the four main heart valve areas: the aortic, pulmonary, tricuspid and mitral valve areas. They should also listen for any additional sounds such as clicks, and heart murmurs.

Reflective activity

‘How to’ articles can help update your practice and ensure it remains evidence-based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on and write a short account of:

How you think you could use this article to improve your practice in undertaking cardiac examinations.

How you could use this resource to educate your colleagues about auscultating for heart sounds.

Nursing Standard. 32, 5,41-43. doi: 10.7748/ns.2017.e10965

Correspondence

Sara.morgan@southwales.ac.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Received: 21 July 2017

Accepted: 08 August 2017