The main difference between apical and radial pulse is that the torso is the palpable site of the apical pulse whereas the upper limb is the palpable site of the radial pulse.
Apical pulse and radial pulse are the pulses felt on different palpable sites of the human body. Usually, a pulse is the tactile arterial palpation of the cardiac cycle (heartbeat) by trained fingertips.
Key Areas Covered
- What is Apical Pulse
- Definition, Anatomy, Function
- What is Radial Pulse
- Definition, Anatomy, Function
- Similarities Between Apical and Radial Pulse
- Outline of Common Features
- Difference Between Apical and Radial Pulse
- Comparison with Key Differences
Apical Radial Pulse, Pulse, Radial Pulse
What is Apical Pulse
The apical pulse is the pulse that is felt over the left side of the chest over the heart. It is located in the 5th left intercostal space, 1.25 cm lateral to the mid-clavicular line in the torso. The two main characteristic features of the apical pulse, in contrast to the other pulse sites, include being unilateral and measured not under an artery but below the heart.
Furthermore, the apical pulse refers to the palpation due to cardiac activity over the precordium. Therefore, it is the lowermost and outermost cardiac activity. As this pulse is closer to the heart, the apical pulse characterizes heat contractions better.
What is Radial Pulse
The radial pulse is the pulse that one can feel at the wrist. It is located on the radial artery. Therefore, the radial pulse is a peripheral pulse that is felt through the wall of the radial artery.
When measuring the pulse, what one feels is not the blood flowing through the artery but the shock wave that travels along the artery wall. It also refers to the number of beats per minute.
Similarities Between Apical and Radial Pulse
- Apical and radial pulses are two common palpations important in measuring cardiac activity.
- They measure cardiac activity per minute.
Difference Between Apical and Radial Pulse
Apical pulse refers to the pulse that you can feel over the left side of your chest over the apex of your heart, while radial pulse refers to the pulse that you can feel on the wrist.
Generally, one can measure the apical pulse by heart rate per minute with the help of a stethoscope, while one can measure the radial pulse by beats per minute with the help of the tips of the first three fingers.
Sometimes, the apical pulse is heard along with heart murmurs or other sounds, while the radial pulse measures the presence or absence of the pulse and its speed.
The apical pulse gives the best idea of heart contractions, while the radial pulse can be lost when the heartbeat is low.
Measurement of Blood Pressure
The apical pulse does not help to measure blood pressure, while the radial pulse helps in measuring blood pressure.
Abnormal apical pulses indicate heart disease, heart failure, and an overactive thyroid gland, while abnormal radial pulse indicates a blockage inside the artery or heart disease.
In brief, the apical pulse is the pulse that one can feel on the left side of the chest. It measures the heart rate per minute with a stethoscope. In contrast, the radial pulse is the pulse that one can feel on the wrist. Moreover, it measures the beats per minute. Therefore, the main difference between apical and radial pulse is the palpitation site. In general, both apical and radial pulses help to determine heart disease.
- Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, July 30). Pulse. Wikipedia. Retrieved August 5, 2022.