NCLEX Review: Cardiovascular Assessment

Join us in this NCLEX review video as we discuss the various aspects of assessment that are necessary to get a good overview of a patient’s cardiac condition. We will answer questions you may encounter on the NCLEX exam, such as: What is subjective data and what types of questions should you ask the patient? What symptoms might you encounter and what do they mean? What is objective data? What should you look for in an inspection of a patient? Why are palpations an important part of a cardiovascular assessment? What are best practices for auscultation? We will also discuss listening points and how to differentiate between heart sounds.

Cardiovascular Assessment

Subjective data – patient’s point of view

Objective data – measurable with examination and tests

Inspection – looking at the patient

Palpation – feeling the patient

Auscultation – listening to the patient’s heart


Subjective data allows you to gather the patient’s common or concerning symptoms…

Chest pain? where, when, intensity, type, duration, radiation, associated symptoms, etc.


Shortness of breath or dyspnea?

Swelling or edema?

History? Personal or family history of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, thrombophlebitis, bleeding disorders, or easy bruising

Risk factors? Physical activity, smoking status, diet, alcohol or drug use


Objective data provides valuable information about cardiovascular function

    • Height / weight / Vital signs
    • Inspection – general appearance, level of alertness, skin color/condition, edema, clubbing or cyanosis of fingers, jugular vein distention
    • Palpation – pulses, check extremities for skin temperature, texture, turgor, edema, capillary refill
    • Auscultation – Listen with patient in 3 positions – sitting up, lying on left side, & lying on back with HOB elevated 30-45 degrees
      • Heart sounds
        • S1 = “Lub” – Tricuspid & bicuspid valves close; Beginning of systole (contraction)
        • S2 = “Dub” – Aortic & pulmonary valves close; End of systole, beginning of diastole (relaxation)


    • 5 areas for listening to the heart (All People Enjoy Time Magazine)
      • Aortic valve area
      • Pulmonic valve area
      • Erb’s point
      • Tricuspid valve area
      • Mitral valve area

NCLEX Questions



by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: October 29, 2019