Smartphones, sports bands and smartwatches reliably control the heartbeat. This gives heart patients security and helps athletes to train optimally.
If cardiac arrhythmias are not recognized and treated, it can be dangerous. The widespread atrial fibrillation, in particular, can trigger strokes. Depending on age, it affects two to 15 out of 100 people. The irregular heartbeat promotes blood clots, which lead to a stroke. Also, high blood pressure, diabetes and lung problems or thyroid can upset the heart’s rhythm.
What is heart rate variability (HRV) and heart attacks and how it copes?
In the past, you needed an uncomfortable chest strap to control your heartbeat yourself. Today smartphone’s heart rate variability monitor mobile app is enough, a sports band or a smartwatch. HRV is the physiological sensation of variation in the interval between heartbeats; heart rate variability app is becoming common for this cause. For instance, Welltory comes with HRV stress and the best HRV monitoring technology. If it needs to be very precise, a small additional device records an electrocardiogram (EKG) and gives the all-clear or advises a doctor.
Patients with heart disease or who have already had a heart attack in particular need a device that quickly and reliably assesses whether a doctor’s visit is necessary in the event of sudden symptoms such as a racing heart or chest pain. But also athletes can monitor their heart rate. This helps to always move within the range of the optimal training pulse and not to overload the cardiovascular system.
Algorithms detect atrial fibrillation – heart rate variability device
Most sports bands and smartwatches are the best HRV monitor for measuring the heartbeat on the wrist or fingertip and show it on the display. The devices use infrared light and photodiodes to monitor the flow of blood under the skin (see infographic below). Modern models from Samsung, Garmin, Fitbit, Apple or Xiaomi now also measure the heart rate continuously. However, with different levels of precision. You can check here the best heart rate variability mobile app: how to check your heart rate on iPhone.
Last year, US researchers at Stanford University examined several of these devices and only certified the Apple Watch HRV with a very low error rate.
Only special algorithms can detect cardiac arrhythmias in the pulse data. New studies from the University of California in San Francisco show that the “Cardiogram” app, for example, correctly detects atrial fibrillation in 97 percent of cases.
- The Apple Watch HRV currently only draws attention to irregularities when the heartbeat is very high, although the user moves little according to the watch’s motion sensor.
- The “Preventicus Heartbeats” app for iPhone or Android smartphone controls the heartbeat. It is certified as a medical product and, according to clinical studies, detects extra beats and arrhythmias with an accuracy comparable to that of an ECG. The app measures the blood flow through the skin by placing the index finger on the camera of their smartphone for 30 to 60 seconds. In September, “Preventicus Nightwatch” will be launched, an app for sports armbands with the Android Wear / Wear OS operating system.
- The Kardia technology from the US Company AliveCor comprises a small 1-channel ECG device. It is certified by the US FDA. If you place your index finger on the sensor, the device detects atrial fibrillation 98 percent reliably after just 30 seconds. Kardia is available in two versions: the flat KardiaMobile sensor can be placed in the pocket or attached to the back of the smartphone. The KardiaBand has integrated the sensor and virtually replaces the wristband of the Apple Watch.
- CardioSecur is a medical device. It records a 15-lead ECG in 30 seconds using four chest electrodes that are connected to an iPhone or Android smartphone by cable. The app detects cardiac arrhythmias and a heart attack.
- If you don’t have a smartphone that works with the apps or hardware that have already been mentioned, you can switch to an EKG device for your pocket, such as the Beurer ME90. The medical device is positioned about five centimeters below the heart for 30 seconds. The 1-channel ECG device reports a cardiac arrhythmia.
Smartwatches and sports bands measure the pulse on the wrist optically through the skin. This heart rate measurement technique is called photoplethysmography and uses the principle of light reflection.
- A light source lying on the skin sends light rays into the blood-supplied tissue. Mostly green LED light and infrared light are used.
- Red blood absorbs green light particularly well – infrared light, on the other hand, is reflected. Less blood flows through the vessels between the individual heartbeats. Thus, the amount of light that is reflected back to the device also fluctuates.
- Sensors measure the amount of reflected light and use this to calculate how often the heart beats per minute.
Health apps put to the test
There are tens of thousands of apps in the health and fitness space. Their quality is not regulated in any way.
The licensing and control authority Swissmedic only reacts “to information and when the safety of patients, users or third parties is particularly at risk”. Even the designation “Medical App” or “Medical App” is no guarantee of accuracy or reliability.