The key difference between apical and radial pulse is that apical pulse is a pulse site situated on the left side of the chest, over the apex of the heart, while radial pulse is one of the peripheral pulse sites located on the lateral of the wrist.
The heart is the organ that pumps blood across the body. Moreover, it purifies the blood and delivers nutrients to our body tissues and organs. Heart functioning can be detected by the sounds of the heart valve opening and closing. Abnormal heart rate indicates the possibility of heart diseases, heart failure or an overactive thyroid gland. Pulse is the heart rate – the vibration of blood as your heart pumps. It can be measured by the apical pulse, which is the pulse that can be heard at the apex of the heart. In other words, it is the cardiac activity felt by palpation over the precordium. In fact, it is one of eight common arterial pulse sites. The radial pulse is the pulse measured using the radial artery in your wrist. It is one of the peripheral pulse sites.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Apical Pulse
3. What is Radial Pulse
4. Similarities Between Apical and Radial Pulse
5. Side by Side Comparison – Apical vs Radial Pulse in Tabular Form
What is Apical Pulse?
The apical pulse is a common arterial pulse site. It is the pulse measured over the chest where the heart’s mitral valve is best heard. In fact, it is the most efficient way to measure heart function. A stethoscope is used to measure the apical pulse, and it is best assessed while the patient is either lying down or sitting.
Apical pulse happens when the left ventricle of the heart contracts. Left ventricle forms the apex of the heart. Hence, the apical pulse is best measured by placing a stethoscope over the area of the apex. Doctors calculate the number of pulsations per minute. Measuring apical value is a noninvasive method.
What is Radial Pulse?
The radial pulse is one of the peripheral pulse sites. It is the pulse measured in the radial artery, which runs closer to the surface of the skin at the wrist. It gives the heartbeat per minute.
Radial pulse is assessed by placing three fingertips lightly upon the radial artery at the wrist. The exact location is one inch from the base of the thumb. In newborns and children under five, it is difficult to measure the radial pulse. Therefore, the apical pulse is usually measured in newborns and children.
What are the Similarities Between Apical and Radial Pulse?
- Radial and apical pulse are important to diagnose heart conditions.
- They are measured per minute and give the heart rate.
What is the Difference Between Apical and Radial Pulse?
The pulse measured at the apex of the heart is called the apical pulse, while the pulse at your wrist is called the radial pulse. So, this is the key difference between apical and radial pulse. The apical pulse is usually measured using a stethoscope while the radial pulse is measured using the tips of three central fingers.
Moreover, another difference between apical and radial pulse is that the apical pulse is the heart rate directly over the heart while the radial pulse gives the pulse on a location away from the heart. The radial pulse is difficult to measure in newborns and children below five while apical pulse can be measured in newborns and children below five.
Below infographic tabulates the differences between apical and radial pulse.
Summary – Apical vs Radial Pulse
Pulse or heart rate is a good indicator of heart health or the overall health of a person. The apical pulse is the pulse directly over the top of the heart. Measuring the apical value is noninvasive, and it is the best way to detect heart function. The radial pulse is one of the peripheral pulse sites in which the radial artery runs close to the skin of the inner wrist. In simple words, the radial pulse is the pulse at your wrist. Thus, this is the summary of the difference between apical and radial pulse.
1. “Doctor listening to patient’s heartbeat using stethoscope” (CC0) via Pikrepo
2. “Radial pulse” By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeanette Copeland – Image # 040413-F-5646C-00 (description, full size link) (Domini públic) via Commons Wikimedia