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In this paper a novel method for vital parameter detection using an ultra wideband (UWB) pulse radar is presented. By using sub-nanosecond pulses the displacement of a human chest due to respiratory movement can be detected very accurately. Because of the very broadband behavior of the transmit signal the presented system is also capable of penetrating materials like walls. For signal processing we use the continuous wavelet transform (CWT) with a special background subtraction method. This allows a detection of respiration up to a distance of 5 meters and also behind walls. The radar test set-up with the used components and the applied signal processing on real measurement data are presented.