Checking the Neck Pulse: A Step-by-Step Guide

Checking for a pulse on the neck is a vital skill that can help determine the presence or absence of a heartbeat. It is a crucial step in assessing an individual's condition during a medical emergency. In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to check for a pulse on the neck, emphasizing the importance of proper technique. MyCPR NOW offers valuable resources and training programs to equip individuals with the skills needed to respond to emergency situations.

Importance of Checking the Neck Pulse:

Checking the neck pulse is a critical part of a primary assessment when evaluating a person's circulation and cardiac function. It can help determine if the heart is beating effectively and provide valuable information to guide immediate care and decision-making. The neck pulse is typically assessed when other pulse points, such as the wrist or groin, are not readily accessible or during advanced life support interventions.

Step-by-Step Guide to Checking the Neck Pulse:

Step 1: Position the Person Properly:
Ensure that the person you are assessing is lying on their back on a firm surface. This allows for optimal positioning and accessibility to the neck pulse.

Step 2: Locate the Anatomical Landmark:
Identify the anatomical landmark for checking the neck pulse. The carotid artery, located on either side of the neck, is commonly used for assessing the pulse. It is situated between the sternocleidomastoid muscle (located in the front of the neck) and the trachea (windpipe).

Step 3: Place Two Fingers:
Using your first two fingers (index and middle), gently locate the carotid artery by palpating the soft area between the muscle and the windpipe. Apply light pressure until you feel the pulsations.

Step 4: Avoid Excessive Pressure:
Be cautious not to apply excessive pressure while palpating the pulse. Too much pressure can compress the artery and impede blood flow, giving inaccurate results.

Step 5: Assess the Pulse:
Once you have located the pulse, focus on the rhythm, rate, and strength of the pulsations. Assess the pulse for at least 5 to 10 seconds to get an accurate representation of the person's heart rate.

Step 6: Count the Beats:
Using a watch with a second hand or a timer, count the number of beats felt during the designated time. If you have counted for 10 seconds, multiply the count by 6 to determine the pulse rate per minute.

Step 7: Note the Characteristics:
Pay attention to the characteristics of the pulse. It should be regular, with consistent intervals between each beat. Additionally, evaluate the strength of the pulse, which can be described as weak, strong, or bounding.

Step 8: Document the Findings:
Record the pulse rate, rhythm, and strength in a clear and concise manner. Documenting these findings accurately provides crucial information for further assessment and medical intervention.

MyCPR NOW's Resources for Checking the Neck Pulse:

As part of their comprehensive training programs, MyCPR NOW offers valuable resources and training materials to support the learning and application of pulse assessment. These resources include:

1. Instructional Videos:
MyCPR NOW provides instructional videos that demonstrate proper technique for checking the neck pulse. These videos offer visual guidance on hand placement, pressure application, and the overall procedure.

2. Interactive Learning Modules:
Their interactive learning modules cover the principles and best practices of pulse assessment, including checking the neck pulse. These modules provide in-depth information and interactive exercises to enhance understanding and skill development.

3. Expert Guidelines:
MyCPR NOW's resources for checking the neck pulse align with recognized guidelines and recommendations. They ensure that learners receive accurate and up-to-date information from reputable sources.


Checking the neck pulse is a crucial skill for assessing an individual's cardiac function and circulation. By following the step-by-step guide outlined above and utilizing the resources provided by MyCPR NOW, you can effectively assess the neck pulse and gather essential information to guide immediate care. Remember, proper training and regular practice are essential for maintaining proficiency in pulse assessment. By choosing MyCPR NOW for your training needs, you can access comprehensive resources and gain the knowledge and skills necessary to respond effectively in emergency situations.

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