arterial pulse (amplitude, large)

Last reviewed 01/2018

In this wave form the upstroke is abrupt and steeper than normal. The peak of the wave form is reached earlier than normal and there is a rapid downstroke. The amplitude of the wave form is abnormally wide.

  • with the patient reclining, the examiner raises the patient's arm vertically upwards. The examiner grasps the muscular part of the patient's forearm. A waterhammer pulse is felt as a tapping impulse which is transmitted through the bulk of the muscles

  • a waterhammer was a Victorian toy in which a tube was half filled with fluid, the remainder being a vacuum. The child would invert and reinvert the tube; each time the impact of the fluid at each end would sound like a hammer blow


  • Kirby B (1993). Clinical examination of the heart. Medicine International, 21(8), 294-99.