Heart Rate Monitors have become an integral part of many wearable offerings that focus on fitness and health. Heart rate monitors are increasingly becoming more popular. According to a recent study, 13% steady growth is expected in demand for products with heart rate monitoring between 2016 and 2020.
Unfortunately, since these devices have not gone through stringent FDA testing requirements, the measurements that you find in some of the products can be far from the reality. Recently there was some controversy surrounding the inaccuracy of Fitbit products. These errors make it harder for consumers to know what they are paying for.
Apple has been at the forefront with its Apple Watch Product when it comes to heart rate monitoring for fitness and health applications. Other products that play in this same space are from Fitbit, Mio Alpha, and Basis Peak.
Clinics Put Wearable Heart Monitors to the Test
In a recent study published in JAMA Cardiology, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic tested the accuracy of heart rate monitoring in several fashionable and popular wearables including Apple Watch Heart Rate Monitors. In this study, researchers asked 50 healthy volunteers to wear these devices and get on a treadmill. They collected heart rate information from an EKG and these wearable devices at different stages of exercise. They then looked at the correlation of the heart rate on the wearables with the EKG-measured heart rate as well as patterns of deviation.
Interestingly, these wearable heart rate monitors performed well in low impact exercise. However, as workout intensity increased, the sensors’ accuracy showed greater and greater discrepancy from the EKG Dr. Gordon Blackburn, a study authors and the director of cardiac rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic noted, “what we really noticed was all of the devices did not do a bad job at rest for being accurate for their heart rate, but as the activity intensity went up, we saw more and more variability.”
The results found that the Apple Watch Heart Rate Monitors and Mio Fuse had the most accurate heart rate tracking, demonstrating the best concordance with EKG-measured heart rate (0.91 for both). Apple Watch ended up with a 90% accuracy rating as compared to the other wearables tested.
Interesting, there was no overlap in the 95% confidence intervals for these devices vs. the Fitbit and Basis devices, which concordance coefficients of 0.84 and 0.83 respectively.
Again, Fitbit and Basis fell short compared to Apple Watch Heart Rate Monitors and Mio Fuse. Both Fitbit and Basis showed wider spreads (and less accuracy) on heart rates, particularly in the mid-range (100 – 160 bpm) than either Apple Watch or Mio Fuse.
This study also shows that Apple products are more dependable when compared to its competitors. If you have not yet ordered your Apple Watch yet, feel free to take a peek at Apple’s site and learn more about this innovative product’s offerings. This watch is a great product to target for your gift wish list!