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Stanislava Ponjevic | University of Sunderland

Pharmacy MPharm

How to do a Cardiac Examination for an OSCE Exam

Hey guys.

So this week I’m doing a post based on what I’ve been learning in my classes. In our clinical skills seminars, we have been practicing for our OSCE exam that we’ll be having in January. One of our stations this year is to perform a cardiac examination, which I’m sure a lot of my classmates are stressing about already. Here’s an overview of the examination:

General inspection of the patient

  • General health
  • Colour (face: cyanosis, jaundice etc), weight and and if in any obvious pain

Hand inspection

  • Temperature- sign of infection
  • Clubbing: can be checked by putting index fingernails together to form diamond- can signify infective endocarditis
  • Splinter hemorrhages- also infective endocarditis
  • Pale palms- anemia
  • Tar staining from smoking

Eye inspection

  • Lift lower eyelids at the same time to inspect for:
  1. Pale conjunctiva: pale lower eyelids- due to anemia
  2. Jaundice
  3. Xanthelasma/Corneal arcus- due to cholesterol deposits

Mouth inspection

  • General look at mouth and teeth to see if there are any signs of infective endocarditis (this is when the infective bacteria gets into the systemic circulation and causes infection of the endocardium of the heart)
  • Ask patient to lift tongue so you can look for cyanosis (blue colour)

Chest inspection & Palpations

  • Check for scarring, bruising, visible heaves, deformities or trauma
  • Palpations to check for heaves (pushing of chest against hands) and thrills (purring)
  1. Aortic and Pulmonary: hands placed on 2nd intercostal space on both sides of chest close to the sternum
  2. Tricuspid and Mitral: hands placed on 4th intercostal space on left side and 5th intercostal space at the mid-clavicular line


  • With the diaphragm and bell of the stethoscope, listen to the heart sounds, place diaphragm in the same spots as where hands were placed during the palpation
  • Also listen to the lungs: find the base of the lungs and just above there you should place your stethoscope and listen for crackles- this indicates oedema or heart failure


We did not manage to cover everything in this video but we have tried to go over the most difficult portions. Hope this helps all students in my year and for prospective students, I hope this gives you a better idea of the kind of exams we have in our course. Enjoy!







One Response to “How to do a Cardiac Examination for an OSCE Exam”

  1. Victoria Duffy says:

    Excellent. Well done girls!

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  • Name: Stanislava Ponjevic
  • Age: 22
  • Studying: Pharmacy MPharm
  • Hometown: Alberta, Canada
  • Ambitions: To explore as many countries as I can, promote healthy lifestyle choices and get a PharmD degree to teach at a university level.

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