7 Heart Monitoring Devices to Consider
In today’s rapidly evolving health gadget marketplace, it’s very easy to get confused by the different devices promising to measure your heart health.

An athlete can check her performance with the automatic heart rate monitor watch, the fitness freak can keep track of his activity and diet with the fitness wristband and can even measure his blood pressure and monitor blood oxygen with a wireless blood pressure monitor.

There are many ways to keep track of your heart health. This post will discuss some of the most common heart monitoring devices.
Important Aspects of Heart Health to Monitor with Devices
Health devices help you monitor the heart by tracking the most important metrics of cardiac well being including:
1.     Heart Rate
These devices use an electrocardiogram (ECG) to detect the electrical signals generated by the heart. To obtain a reading, one electrode pad is placed on the chest while another pad goes over the left foot or wrist.

The device then records the time between each beat of your heart, known as inter-beat intervals, which gives doctors information about how well your heart is functioning as a whole.
2.    Blood Pressure
Blood pressure monitors measure both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by inflating a cuff around an upper arm and rapidly deflating it. The device uses an automated system to inflate, read and record blood pressure measurements.
3. Quality of sleep
Some devices measure not only the heart rate, but also steps taken and quality of sleep. A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that people who have a reduced amount of sleep are twice as likely to develop heart disease than those who get enough sleep every night.
Types of Heart Monitoring Devices
There are different types of heart monitoring devices you can use to track your cardiac health. The most common ones include:
1. Hardware
The AliveCor Heart Monitor is a portable device that attaches to the back of a smartphone. It’s able to detect irregular heart rhythms and can send an alert to notify the wearer or a caregiver when it detects an irregular heartbeat.

The device also features an ECG app that records heart activity and allows users to track their heart health over time. It provides information on heart rate, beats per minute, pulse wave velocity, blood oxygen levels and more with its easy-to-understand charts and graphs.
2.     Software
Apple’s Health app offers a number of different ways for users to monitor their heart health. It can be used to keep track of calorie intake, cholesterol levels and even blood pressure.

All of this information can be shared with Apple’s HealthKit, which can be used by doctors to gain valuable insights into patient health.
3.  Implantable cardiac Devices
Implantable cardiac devices are some of the most advanced technologies available for monitoring heart health. These devices include pacemakers and defibrillators that are surgically implanted into the body after a heart attack or other medical emergency.

In addition to improving heart function, these devices also protect against future cardiac events by detecting dangerous arrhythmias and stimulating the heart back into a normal rhythm.
4.    Wearables
A wearable takes the form of a watch or wristband–it is portable and you can carry it wherever you go.

The Apple Watch Series 4, for example, has an ECG feature that can measure electrical activity in the heart, which could be a sign of atrial fibrillation or other irregularities.

Image Alt tag: Heart monitoring device placed on the arm to monitor heart rate.

The FDA approved it in September 2017, and other companies have since followed suit with similar products. In general, these devices aren’t going to replace standard tests and visits to the doctor. They’re more like a tool and monitoring system you can use at home to identify issues sooner rather than later.

A wristband called Helo allows you to track your exercise and observe your heart rate trends. The device connects with your smartphone via Bluetooth and sends notifications when it reaches your target heart rate zone or when you need to slow down if it is too high.

It allows you to set a target zone for each workout and helps you reach that goal by beeping when it detects any unusual activity.
7 Heart Monitoring Devices to Care for Yourself
1.  CardioSense Wristband
The CardioSense wristband monitors heart rate variability (HRV), which indicates how stressed or relaxed you are. HRV is important because it affects how well your heart pumps blood throughout your body.

Side effects from stress include increased blood pressure, higher cholesterol and even depression. Research has found that people with lower HRV are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease. The device also measures step count, sleep and calories burned.
2.  The Wahoo Tickr
The Wahoo Tickr chest strap tracks both heart rate and heart rhythm (ECG). This data can be used to identify irregularities in the heartbeat and take precautions accordingly. Tickr’s software also monitors workout intensity, training history and provides personalized feedback according to heart health zones.
3.   Fitbit Charge HR
Fitbit is one of the most popular heart monitoring devices in the industry, and their Charge HR (US$150) is no exception. This wristband is equipped with an optical heart rate monitor that continuously tracks your pulse all day long, including while you sleep.

It also tracks your steps and distance covered each day, and when paired with a smartphone it can be used to display text messages. And if you’re looking to lose weight, this device tracks how many calories you burn throughout the day.

Fitbit’s community of users makes it easy to see how your activity compares to others of a similar age and sex, which can help keep you motivated as you work toward your fitness goals. The device syncs with a computer or smartphone using Bluetooth technology.

4.   Lifetrak Fitbit

This fitness tracker not only monitors heart rate, but also steps taken and quality of sleep. A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that people who have a reduced amount of sleep are twice as likely to develop heart disease than those who get enough sleep every night.

5.   CorSense Wearable Sensors
The CorSense system has been developed to provide individuals with an easy way to monitor their cardiac activity, via a mobile device and a specially designed sensor band, that is worn on the chest during sleep.

The sensors have been tested in various locations around the world, including Europe and the US. Most recently, monitoring has taken place at hospitals in China. These devices are currently being marketed as a solution for people with heart palpitations who want to be able to track their heart rate throughout the day, over time.

The CorSense sensor can also be used for prevention purposes by people who are otherwise healthy but want to stay on top of their cardiac health.

6.   Zio Service
The Zio service uses a small, wearable device to constantly monitor your heart health. The device looks like a smartwatch and has a small sensor that sits below the skin and monitors heart activity. It is one of the most popular heart monitoring devices.

The Zio service is a 24/7 health monitoring solution that provides users with real-time, one-touch access to their personal health data—anytime, anywhere. The Zio device continuously records electrocardiogram (EKG) data, which is an accurate reflection of the heart’s activity that can be used to identify cardiac arrhythmias and abnormalities.

The Zio system offers a simple one-year membership for $99. But if you want more detailed information about your heart health, you’ll have to pay for a premium account. That will put you on the hook for $199 per year, which is comparable to other heart health monitoring systems in this review.

7. Holter Monitor
A Holter monitor is a portable ECG device that records your heart’s activity over a 24-hour period. A Holter monitor continuously records your heart rhythm, which is later analyzed by physicians.
The device is small (about the size of a deck of cards) and weighs less than 2 ounces. It is attached to your belt or waistband with a special strap, which also has a pocket to hold the recorder.
The Holter monitor measures and records information about your heart rhythm over a 24-hour period. It can be used to:

  • Identify episodes of irregular heartbeat or bradycardia (a slow or abnormally slow heart rate).
  • Detects abnormal heart rhythms without symptoms (heart arrhythmias).
  • Monitor someone after they have undergone surgery for an abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Help determine the cause of symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, palpitations and chest pain.

You can also use it to assess if there are any abnormal heart rhythms during sleep.
The Takeaway on Heart Monitoring Devices
The first thing you need to know is that none of these devices can diagnose or treat heart disease. They’re all tools, not treatment. But they can be a useful way to keep track of your health and spot serious problems earlier than if you rely only on physical exams and standard blood tests.

“There’s no question that this is a very important area,” says Dr. David J. Maron, director of the Stanford Heart Failure Center in Palo Alto, California. “We’re seeing more and more use of personal monitors, and they can definitely help people manage their condition.”