Not All Heart Rate Monitors Are Created Equal

Oct 26, 2016 Sharlene Sternberg

With all of the HRM consumer products available today, are you overwhelmed? What about the wearability and accuracy of these devices? Are certain ones better than others? Per recently unveiled research the short answer is a resounding yes.

According to a study recently published by JAMA Cardiology, you should care about the accuracy of your wearable devices, specifically heart rate monitors. This is especially important if you rely on these monitors to stay within physician-recommended safe heart rate thresholds during rehabilitation or when exercising. 

The new study states, “While the accuracy of chest strap, electrode-based HR monitors has been confirmed, the accuracy of wrist-worn, optically based HR monitors is uncertain.” "In general, accuracy of wrist-worn monitors was best at rest and diminished with exercise," A. Marc Gillinov, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues reported online in a research letter in JAMA Cardiology. Some of the individual wrist-worn devices used in the treadmill study over- or underestimated heart rate by 50 bpm or more when, according to the electrocardiograph, heart rate was in the 120-130 bpm range. The objective of this study was to assess the accuracy of four popular Heart Rate wrist-worn devices: Apple Watch (Apple), Mio Alpha (Mio Global), Fitbit Charge HR (Fitbit) and Basis Peak (Basis).

After recording 1,773 HR values across all four devices, the investigators found that, when compared with an electrocardiogram, the HR monitors had variable accuracy. While the Basis Peak overestimated HR during moderate exercise, the Fitbit Charge HR underestimated HR during more-vigorous exercise. Broad variability was recorded across the spectrum of midrange HRs during exercise. The Apple Watch and Mio Fuse had 95% of values within –27 bpm and +29 bpm of the electrocardiogram, whereas Fitbit Charge HR had 95% of values within –34 bpm and +39 bpm, and the corresponding values for the Basis Peak were within –39 bpm and +33 bpm.

“We found variable accuracy among wrist-worn HR monitors; none achieved the accuracy of a chest strap-based monitor. In general, accuracy of wrist-worn monitors was best at rest and diminished with exercise,” wrote the authors. “Electrode-containing chest monitors should be used when accurate HR measurement is imperative. While wrist-worn HR monitors are often used recreationally to track fitness, their accuracy varies; two of four monitors had suboptimal accuracy during moderate exercise. Because cardiac patients increasingly rely on these monitors to stay within physician-recommended, safe HR thresholds during rehabilitation and exercise, appropriate validation of these devices in this group is imperative.”

This is one of the key reasons why at Sensoria we have decided to embed the highest quality electrodes directly into your t-shirt and sports bra and pair it with a high quality Bluetooth Smart HRM module.

In addition to the study mentioned above, according to a recent article titled: "Wrist-Worn Heart Monitors Unreliable During Exercise" and posted on MedPage Today, two other studies conducted recently have also reported a lackluster health benefits from wrist worn activity trackers. TRIPPA (Trial of Economic Incentives to Promote Physical Activity) showed that use of a FitBit device did not improve health metrics including blood pressure or body weight as well as did not show increases in physical activity very much when compared to no intervention at all. In another study conducted by IDEA (Innovative Approaches to Diet, Exercise and Activity), patients not using wearable devices lost more weight after two years. In actuality, use of wearable devices tracking physical activity in overweight and obese young adults failed to increase weight loss above standard interventions in a 2-year randomized trial. 

All hope is not lost on fitness trackers as a weight-loss aid. Some earlier studies had found that fitness trackers could boost short-term weight loss which prompted the current IDEA study to evaluate the longevity of these benefits. According to Reshmi Srinath, MD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who was not involved in the study, “In my practice, patients using such devices to monitor their activity level and diet appear to be more adherent to prescribed diet/exercise regimens and have greater success with weight loss.” 

What is most important is knowing that accuracy of the data can be dramatically affected by the device that you choose. 

At Sensoria we think that it is imperative that if you love being active, or you are a cardiac patient or you are a member of a so called high risk population you need accuracy and reliability in monitoring your heart rate. You should carefully evaluate your options and do your research before purchasing the right HRM system.

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Healthy Habits to Reduce Stress

Sep 13, 2016 Paige Johnson

When you have a million things to do and feel you can’t excuse taking a break, your mental and physical health will begin to suffer. It is important that you remember to take care of yourself, scheduling relaxation and being vigilant about your mental state. The more stress you put yourself under, the more you will find your work suffering. Here are a few simple ways to keep stress levels low and productivity high.

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Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Heart Sentinel

Jun 17, 2016 Davide Vigano

There is no doubt that an active lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle. However, science tells us that during exercise the risk of a sudden cardiac arrest is a lot higher than during rest.

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Sensoria Walk

May 17, 2016 Davide Vigano

There are a number of people that would benefit from a smart garment that accurately tracks activity and accelerates their rehab process. No matter how slow they walk.  This is why we created Sensoria Walk. 

Unlike wrist worn accelerometer equipped devices Sensoria Walk can track activity of people suffering from Gait impairments, short stride length, slow walking speed and even people that use a cane, a walker or wearing a prosthesis.

The app works in conjunction with our electronic anklet, and textile sensor infused smart socks to help its wearer set goals, track daily activity including steps, cadence and distance during rehabilitation after a stroke or post-surgery—with the ultimate goal of speeding up overall recovery time.

Here’s what David G. Armstrong, DPM, MD, PhD; Professor of Surgery and Director, University of Arizona College of Medicine has to say: “For people going through rehab or those suffering from movement limitations, Sensoria smart socks is a major step toward the answer.  You can now work with your patient to set goals in terms of time, steps or distance and they will be ready to go. This is true for "prehabilitation" before surgery or for postoperative care. This appears to be true if they use a walker, have a short stride or walk very slowly. These devices, leveraged with other wearables, allow us to get closer to dosing activity as accurately and effectively as we might have once dosed a drug.” 

Sensoria Walk may help monitor activity in patients suffering from neurological diseases, as well. As an example, studies of Parkinson’s disease show that physical activity benefits patients’ balance, gait and motor condition. Every year, 50,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder that causes tremors, slurred speech and limited mobility. A University of Washington (UW) Medicine researcher outfitted 30 Parkinson’s patients with wearable technologies – Fitbit's trackers and Sensoria’s smart socks – to gather data about activity levels and the disease’s progression.

According to UW Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, “In the past, people have used diaries to track activity, and people tend to overestimate their physical activity,” said Dr. Sujata Pradhan, who is leading the study. More exact information, she hopes, will enable earlier discovery and treatment of Parkinson’s symptoms. Pradhan thinks the sensors will pick up subtle changes in patients’ gait not evident to the human eye – data that could help her create assessments that identify disease symptoms at an earlier stage. “People are usually referred for rehabilitation only when they have difficulty maintaining their balance or start falling,” Pradhan said. “Usually overt clinical deficits in balance and walking appear later in disease progression. If we bring more awareness to these subtle early symptoms, people will start referring to physical therapy earlier.”

We are looking for a few forward looking physiotherapists and podiatrists that would like to leverage our system to conduct additional research with us.

“Sensoria opens the pathway for advancement in numerous clinical fields, such as rehabilitation medicine, fall prevention in geriatrics, and precision therapy for neurologic conditions like Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis.“ said Dr. Justin Schram, MD, MSc. who serves on Sensoria’s Board of Advisors.

Sensoria Walk is now available for download on the App Store. For more information, visit www.sensoriafitness.com/walk.

I look forward to hearing your feedback!

Best,

Davide Vigano

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How to Be a Better Runner with the Sensoria Running System

Abby Esbenshade, an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, and Weight Management Specialist, reviewed the Sensoria Fitness Running System and just shared this new video with her YouTube followers.
Abby was particularly impressed with the level of comfort of Sensoria’s smart garments, Mara, the Sensoria Virtual Coach and the Virtual Shoe Closet, where you can select your training shoes and monitor their mileage and impact forces. Her conclusions? “I definitely think that these are really, really good high-quality products, very well made” and “I'm a big fan”.

Watch the video to hear directly from her about her experience with Sensoria!
 
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Sensoria Turns CES into A Smart Fashion Show

I want to thank all of you who came by to see us at CES. Our booth was mobbed and my voice was gone for a whole week after the show.

We presented our Sensoria 2016 collection, comprised of heart rate monitoring smart garments with lots of different, fun colors and different styles. 

Our Augmented Reality video and our Athlete 2020 smart suit were a hit.

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