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With each beat your heart sends out an electrical impulse. Although this electricity amount is very small, it can be picked up with ECG (EKG) electrodes attached to the skin. You’ve probably seen ECG monitors in movies. It’s the medical apparatus which generates squiggly lines which let you know whether your heart rhythm is showing signs of atrial fibrillation or is beating in a normal pattern.
While there is no shortage of heart rate training chest straps, ECG monitors have not been available to amateur fitness enthusiasts until recently. Now there is a healthy range of devices which are capable of dishing up a pulse waveform similar to what you’d get from a professional electrocardiogram.
Its worth noting, most of these wearables will not do a perfect job. But the hope is they may warn some people who do not know they are living with a heart condition. Of course, self-diagnosis should always be avoided, and you should refer to your physician for a medical interpretation of your readings. With that out of the way, here’s our selection.
QardioCore is a smart, wearable ECG monitor. A number of years in the making, the device is designed to improve detection and management of cardiac conditions.
Six subsystem layers of QardioCore’s sensor system record and analyze over 20 million data points daily along with other important heart metrics. To use, simply wear it around your chest as you would a heart rate band.
The gizmo records your electrocardiogram, heart rate, heart rate variability, body temperature, respiratory rate, activity and stress level. Alongside the ECG trace, the accompanying smartphone app offers friendly data visualization that is simple to understand.
QardioCore is a nice bit of kit but fairly expensive. Its particularly suited for people with increased health risk caused by family predisposition, history of heart attacks or strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and excess weight.
Many expected AliveCor to be squashed by the launch of the ECG enabled Apple Watch but AliveCor still seems to be doing well. It recently announced a collaboration with Huami and continues to sell its ECG accessories. Mind you, it has continued production of KardiaBand which is not really a surprise.
AliveCor’s most recent productd is the KardiaMobile 6L. Unlike its earlier product range which has a single lead ECG, this one comes with a 6-lead system. It can detect AFib, Bradycardia, Tachycardia and normal heart rhythm with more accuracy and detail than its competition. In a care clinic ECG readers have 12 leads which are placed across a patient’s chest to pick up heart data. More leads mean a better view of your heart.
To take a measurement rest your thumbs against the two electrodes with KardiaMobile 6L facing you. Then, touch the bottom electrode to the bare skin of your left knee or left ankle. It takes about 30 seconds to complete a reading.
Apple Watch Series 4 +
Much has already been said about the Apple Watch. With each passing year, the device is edging closer to becoming your must-have health guardian. In addition to other hardware and design improvements, anything Series 4 and above comes with fall detection, irregular heart rate alerts, low/high heart rate alerts and more. Then there is, of course, the FDA-approved ECG sensor.
Readings are on-demand. To take a measurement simply rest your finger against the digital crown while wearing the watch. This creates a closed circuit between the digital crown and the sensor on the back. Built in electrodes will then work to detect electrical impulses from the heart.
It takes just 30 seconds for a pulse waveform to be generated. You’ll get a full report and the app will let you know if your heart rhythm is normal or there are issues. There is also a PDF with all the info so you can forward the info on to your doctor.
WIWE is a clinical-grade ECG monitor. The size of a business card but slightly thicker, it can fit easily into your pocket or bag. You might even manage to slip it into your wallet!
The gizmo goes further than most other such devices on the market in that it offers more detailed analysis of your readings including irregularities in the ventricular department. And it has been proven to do this with 98.7% accuracy. There are also some extras such as SpO2 measurements and the ability to count steps.
In our review we found the device worked exactly as advertised. If you have reason to be concerned about your heart health or already have a diagnosed condition, WIWE may end up being a life-saving investment.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Samsung has been selling Galaxy Watch Active since September last year, but without one of its advertised features. The ECG functionality is yet to be enabled in most countries, however it has received the stamp of approval from South Korean regulatory authorities. You can expect the feature to be activated in the US, Europe and other regions in the months ahead.
This is a fully fledged smartwatch with a plethora of fitness tracking functions. There’s a 44mm version with a 1.4 inch S-AMOLED display and a 40mm one with a 1.2 inch display. You also have the option of purchasing an LTE enabled watch.
To take an ECG reading you’ll need to place your forearm on a flat surface and rest a fingertip of the other hand on the top button for 30 seconds. The app will then measure both your heart rate and ECG. In addition to this, the watch will soon be able to measure blood pressure as well.
Omron Complete is an upper arm blood pressure monitor that allows you to keep tabs on your ECG readings and share them with your doctor. This means you’ll get a complete picture of your heart health from a single device. ECG readings are obtained by touching electrodes located on the top face and both sides of the monitor.
The device was developed in partnership with Alivecor. Complete uses a new algorithm developed by AliveCor which has greater success at detecting the possibility of Afib.
HeartBit looks like a chest strap but this is where the similarity ends. To use, you need to slip the gizmo into a special training top made of high-quality moisture-control fabrics. From there it takes real-time heart monitoring to the next level by measuring electrical signals produced by your heart with laboratory-like accuracy.
HeartBit essentially acts like a 3-lead 5-sensor ECG monitor that can detect signs of arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation and warn you of potential anomalies. The device allows users to keep their cardiac health in check so they can strive towards their fitness goals without incurring any harm. HeartBit takes measurements at a frequency of 2,000 Hz per electrode, which means 10,000 data points per second in total.
To fulfil this vision, the 5 strong team has teamed up with IBM. The device is still in the works and we have no details on final pricing or a launch date. You can register, though, on the company’s website to be kept informed of progress.