Wearables for heart monitoring – Frequently asked questions from users

Earlier wearable technologies were designed and used to collect the most basic health information, primarily related to exercise, such as the number of steps, time of activity, heart rate, movement patterns, etc. However, as they have become smaller, faster, and more powerful, they can now track far more than steps and heart rate.

With sophisticated sensors, today’s wearable technologies can monitor, detect, store, and transfer more biometric data, including heart rhythm, blood pressure, glucose and oxygen levels, emotional and cognitive function, and more.

According to studies, more than 58% of users believe that tracking their health data boosts their accountability and motivation to adopt healthy lifestyle changes and help their doctors get a more accurate diagnosis and treatment solutions.

Many clinicians share a similar optimism that wearable technology has the potential to help them access the right data at the right time, offering promise for earlier and more accurate diagnoses, more personalized treatments, and better outcomes.

Let’s now look at some of the pros and cons of wearables in healthcare.

Pros

  • Real-time and immediate access to health data
  • Possible early detection of acute and chronic conditions
  • Accountability, motivation, and encouragement through tracking and monitoring progress
  • Improved clinical decision-making

Cons

  • Inaccurate data and potential for false readings
  • Unproven health benefits
  • Data overload for clinicians
  • Data security and privacy concerns

Thanks to these benefits, more and more people use wearables to capture and track their personal health information. This naturally causes many questions to arise among patients. This post covers the frequently asked questions from patients with chronic heart diseases, who continuously monitor the heart values and heart attack symptoms with wearable health devices to maintain their daily lives.

How often should I check my heart rate?

It is essential to remember that most people do not need to have continuous heart rate monitoring for clinical reasons. Besides, most wearables are primarily suited for fitness and wellness, and they are not a substitute for medically-approved medical devices like blood pressure monitors or ECG monitor. They can give your doctors much accurate information they need to manage your health.

What is a high heart rate?

Most wearable devices can detect and record your heart rate and spot changes over time. The heart rate, however, can go up or down for a variety of reasons. For instance, if you have a cold or fever, you may see an increase in your heart rate. Abrupt heart rate changes, and irregular rhythm notification that you see in some smartwatches, may signify an abnormal heart condition. Yet, you should contact your clinician if you notice any changes that concern you.

What if my device detects something abnormal?

While using a wearable to track heart rhythm or blood pressure, it is essential to understand what’s typical for your age group. Therefore, you need to talk to your clinician about the average heart rate for you. In case you experience symptoms like a rapid heart rate or pounding, fluttering, or flopping, your clinician may use a medically approved device to detect your heart rhythm via an ECG. An ECG is a graph of the heart’s electrical activity and can determine heart rate and rhythm.

When do I call my doctor?

Even in healthy individuals, it is vital to have regular checkups with your doctor or a clinician. In case you are not feeling well or have symptoms such as rapid heart rate, dizziness, or fluttering, or flopping in your heart, you should talk to your clinician. If you get a notification, such as “possible atrial fibrillation,” from your device or something is not normal, you must immediately talk to your clinician. If you get a notification from your wearable and take medication, you should not make any changes to the medications without speaking to your clinician first.

What do I do with the data?

Most wearables come with mobile apps to collect and track data. These apps can help you understand what the data means and track it for you over time. If you notice any significant changes over time or repeating events, you might have a health problem. The collection of data over time can help your clinician understand what’s going on and help determine the next best course of action if needed.

Things to remember

Here are a few tips to remember while buying a wearable for heart monitoring.

  • Take control of your health – Wearables provide real-time information for monitoring, motivating, and managing your health.
  • Focus on prevention – Wearables can support activities for healthy living.
  • Know your data – The ability to track and monitor your health over the time with wearables can help you identify the normal versus abnormal.
  • Set goals – Identify one to two goals that are realistic and fit your personal lifestyle.
  • Keep it simple – Choose the technology and apps that support your goals.

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