Korotkoff Sounds



Korotkoff sounds are generated when a blood pressure cuff changes the flow of blood through the artery. These sounds are heard through either a stethoscope or a doppler that is placed distal to the blood pressure cuff.

There are five distinct phases of Korotkoff sounds:

Phase 1: A sharp tapping.

This is the first sound heard as the cuff pressure is released. This sound provides the systolic pressure reading.

Phase 2: A swishing/whooshing sound.

Swishing sounds as the blood flows through blood vessels as the cuff is deflated.

Phase 3: A thump (softer than phase 1).

Intense thumping sounds that are softer than phase 1 as the blood flows through the artery but the cuff pressure is still inflated to occlude flow during diastole.

Phase 4: A softer, blowing, muffled sound that fades.

Softer and muffled sounds as the cuff pressure is released. The change from the thump of phase 3 to the muffled sound of phase 4 is known as the first diastolic reading.

Phase 5: Silence.

Silence that occurs when the cuff pressure is released enough to allow normal blood flow. This is known as the second diastolic reading.

Learn more about blood pressure here: https://www.ausmed.com.au/cpd/articles/how-to-take-blood-pressure.

CPD time1m
First Published18 March 2020
Updated17 March 2020
17 March 2025
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