We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Water Hammer Pulse?

By Toni Henthorn
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Watson's water hammer pulse is a characteristic medical sign first described by Thomas Watson, M.D. in 1844. It is a pulse that is powerfully pulsating, similar in nature to the pounding of a water hammer. This hyperdynamic pulse occurs when an increased amount of blood is pumped with each stroke of the left ventricle, the largest chamber of the heart. There is also a decreased resistance to outflow of the blood, leading to a widening of the range between the highest and lowest numbers of a blood pressure reading, called the pulse pressure. The Corrigan's pulse, named for Sir Dominic Corrigan, M.D., refers to a water hammer pulse that is detected in the carotid artery, whereas a Watson's water hammer pulse pertains to one detected peripherally in an arm or leg.

A pulse is the rhythmic throb of blood flow due to the heartbeat. The pulse can be felt in many sites on the human body. Common sites for checking a pulse include in the neck, at the wrist, on the inside of the elbow, behind the knee, and near the ankle joint. It can also be ascertained by assessing the heartbeats directly using a stethoscope. Both pulse rate and quality reveal the underlying status of the heart and blood vessels.

Systolic and diastolic readings constitute the numerical boundaries of blood pressure. They represent opposite ends of the cardiac cycle and the highest and lowest levels of blood pressure for a given individual. The pulse pressure is an indicator of the force that the heart generates each time it contracts. In healthy adults, the pulse pressure in a seated position is approximately 40, but can rise to 100 during exercise. Some studies indicate that the pulse pressure may be a better prognostic indicator of clinical outcome than either the systolic or the diastolic blood pressure alone.

There are many symptoms associated with water hammer pulse, the most common of which are muscle weakness and fatigue. Other associated symptoms include shortness of breath, lower extremity swelling, and headache. Patient may experience chest pains and palpitations. Cardiac arrhythmia, irregular heartbeat, may occur due to impaired electrical conduction in the heart chambers.

A water hammer pulse is most often associated with a leaking aortic valve. The aortic valve is the valve that normally keeps blood that has been pumped out of the heart from flowing backward into the heart again. Aortic regurgitation or leakage occurs when the valve does not close properly, allowing blood to leak backward through it. As a result, the left ventricle has to pump more blood than usual, with progressive expansion due to the extra workload. The symptoms of aortic regurgitation can range from mild to severe, with some patients having no symptoms for years.

Some physiological conditions can cause water hammer pulse, such as pregnancy, fever, and extreme anxiety. Other medical conditions can cause a widened pulse pressure, including anemia, hypertension, and cirrhosis of the liver. It can also occur with a hyperactive thyroid gland. Abnormal connections between arteries and veins, called fistulas, can also produce this pulse.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.