ATLS 80/70/60 Rule for Palpable Blood pressure

ATLS’ 80/70/60 rule

Pressure pulse correlation

On the basis of location of pulse palpable, minimum systolic blood pressure can be predicted as follows:

  • Radial/Dorsalis pedis/Popliteal pulse: >80 mmHg
  • Femoral pulse: >70 mmHg
  • Carotid pulse: >60 mmHg

Overestimation of SBP by Pulses

Pulse characteristics are an unreliable sign and “should be used only as a last resort.”

The 80/70/60 rule taught by the prehospital medicine and older editions of ATLS courses tend to overestimate the patient’s blood pressure. This has been shown by two different studies.1 2

Although the radial pulse always disappears before the femoral, which always disappears before the carotid, most patient’s BP is lower than that predicted by these guidelines.

Note: These rules have been ommited in the newer editions of ATLS course.

Reference: Wilderness Medicine E-Book: Expert Consult Premium Edition – By Paul S. Auerbach


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