CPR First Aid

Knowing if the Oximeter Displays a Normal Oxygen Level and Pulse Rate

Knowing if the Oximeter Displays a Normal Oxygen Level and Pulse Rate

Using a medical device like an oximeter may be easy, but understanding its results may be a challenge. Especially since these results may indicate serious health problems. For this reason, it is important to know if an oximeter displays a normal oxygen level and pulse rate. In doing so, the person who does the test, which may be the first aider, can know if a patient is stable or is already experiencing serious conditions. If the latter occurs, a first aid response may then be done while waiting for emergency help. This prevents further complications from occurring and potentially saves a patient’s life.

What is a Normal Oxygen Level?

According to Healthline, a normal oxygen level is between 80 and 100 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). It is interpreted by an oximeter in percentage as SpO2, which is usually 95% or higher. If results are lower, it may mean that a person’s oxygen level is 80 mm Hg or lower, which may indicate hypoxemia.

What is Hypoxemia?

If a person has hypoxemia, he/she may be experiencing a problem related to breathing or circulation. This may be caused by different reasons.

What are the Causes of Hypoxemia?

According to Cleveland Clinic, hypoxemia, which may be detected with the help of an oximeter, is caused by heart and lung function issues.

What is Ventilation-Perfusion (V/Q) Mismatch?

This occurs when ventilation (airflow into the lungs) or perfusion (blood flow to the lungs) does not work. Both of these are needed to function well for the oxygen to get to the blood. If not, a person may have too much oxygen in the lungs but too little blood flow to pick it up, or vice versa.

What is Diffusion Impairment?

A disease, called emphysema, may impair the blood flow between the heart and lungs or cause scarring of the lungs. When this happens, the oxygen finds it hard to pass or diffuse from the lungs to the blood vessels, resulting in a diffusion impairment.

What is Hypoventilation?

When someone is not breathing deeply enough or is breathing too slowly, it means that the oxygen that is getting to his/her lungs is not enough. This issue is called hypoventilation and may be caused by different lung conditions and some brain diseases.

What is Low Environmental Oxygen?

Such environments may be in high altitudes wherein there’s not enough oxygen in the air around to breathe in, causing the blood to get insufficient oxygen it needs.

What is Right-to-left Shunting?

This occurs when instead of the blood flowing into the heart from the right, the deoxygenated blood is pushed over to the left side of the heart. This results in the blood going out to the tissues without enough oxygen.

What is the First Aid for Hypoxemia?

If an oximeter displays an abnormal oxygen level, an appropriate first aid response that will be learned in a first aid course in 123C Colin St West Perth 6005 may be done. These include maintaining a patient’s airway and placing the patient in a recovery position if he/she is unconscious. Calling 000 is advised so further medical treatment may be done in a hospital in Perth.

What is the Treatment for Hypoxemia?

If the oxygen level is lower than normal, treatments may be done to help raise it. It includes inhalers, oxygen tanks, oxygen concentrators, or ventilators.

What is a Normal Pulse Rate?

Pulse rate is ideally measured if a person is resting, wherein he/she did not come from doing physical activity. A normal resting pulse rate is between 60 and 100 beats a minute according to Healthdirect. This is indicated by an oximeter with a “bpm”. Any rate below or above this normal pulse rate may indicate heart conditions that must be provided with medical treatment as soon as possible.

What if Pulse Rate is Low?

If an oximeter reads a person’s bpm to be 60, he/she may be having Bradycardia. If left undetected and untreated, it may lead to complications like frequent fainting, heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest, or sudden death.

What are the Causes of A Low Pulse Rate?

Healthdirect lists the below possible reasons why a person may have a low pulse rate:

  • Arrhythmia (the heart has an irregular beat).
  • Hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormone).
  • There is damage to the heart.
  • Electrolyte imbalance (caused by a loss of a large number of body fluids).
  • Congenital heart defect.
  • There is an infection in the heart tissue.

It may also be caused by certain medications, like those used for treating high blood pressure.

What is the First Aid for Someone who has a Low Pulse Rate?

If someone has a low pulse rate, he/she may seek a doctor’s prescription for an atropine sulfate. It is considered the first line of treatment for bradycardia, according to Verywell Health.

What is the Treatment for Someone who has a Low Pulse Rate?

If someone has Bradycardia, he/she may have to apply changes to lifestyle and medication, as prescribed by a doctor. There may also be a need to use an implanted device called a pacemaker.

What if the Pulse Rate is High?

If an oximeter displays a result of a 100 bpm pulse rate, it may mean that the person is having Tachycardia. It may lead to heart failure, stroke, or sudden cardiac death if not detected or treated.

What are the Causes of a High Pulse Rate?

A high pulse rate may be caused by the following according to WebMD:

  • Strenuous Exercise.
  • Fever.
  • Fear.
  • Stress.
  • Anxiety.
  • Medications.
  • Street drugs.
  • Anaemia.
  • Overactive thyroid.

In some cases, the specific reason why a person has a high pulse rate may not be determined.

What is the First Aid for Someone who has a High Pulse Rate?

The following first aid practices may be followed in attempting to slow a fast heart rate:

  • Coughing.
  • Bearing down.
  • Putting an ice pack on your face.

These are parts of a vagal manoeuvre, a technique that may be done with the help of a first aider.

What is the Treatment for Someone who has a High Pulse Rate?

A person who has been detected to have a high pulse rate may be treated with proper medication, implanted devices, or other surgeries or procedures. 

How are Oxygen Levels and Pulse Rates Checked?

Detecting if a person’s oxygen levels and pulse rates are normal is done by a test called pulse oximetry. It uses a portable, painless, and a non-invasive medical device called an oximeter. Due to its size and usefulness, it is usually added to every first aid kit at home and in workplaces. An oximeter is used by a first aider or any other health professional by clipping it on the end of a patient’s finger. In a few seconds, results of whether a person’s oxygen level and pulse rate are normal will then be displayed on the oximeter’s screen.


To know if the oximeter displays a normal oxygen level and pulse rate, it may be helpful to be reminded of the ideal range for both. If the results are outside the normal level and rate, it may indicate that a person is having a serious health problem. It may be hypoxemia, bradycardia, or tachycardia which may all lead to complications or even death if not detected early with the help of an oximeter. In doing so, a patient may be provided with proper treatment as soon as possible and potentially have his/her life saved.

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