ACC: Wrist Heart Rate Monitors Less Accurate Than Chest Strap

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ACC: Wrist Heart Rate Monitors Less Accurate Than Chest Strap
ACC: Wrist Heart Rate Monitors Less Accurate Than Chest Strap

THURSDAY, March 9, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Wrist-worn fitness devices may be less accurate than thought during certain exercises, according to research being presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, to be held from March 17 to 19 in Washington, D.C.

The study included 50 volunteers, with an average age of 38. They tested popular wrist-worn fitness trackers. The volunteers' heart rates were recorded at rest and after light, moderate, and vigorous exercise on a treadmill, stationary bike, and elliptical trainer. All of them exercised for 18 minutes. The heart rates on the wrist-worn devices were compared to those from a continuous 4-lead electrocardiogram (EKG) and a chest strap monitor.

The chest strap monitor closely matched the readings from the EKG. And the wrist-worn devices were fairly accurate when a person was at rest. Most wrist devices gave acceptable readings during treadmill activity, but were fairly inaccurate while bicycling or using the elliptical. Depending on the type of activity, the wrist devices were up to 34 beats a minute off.

"Even though all these wrist-worn monitors work by the same general principles, there is considerable variation among them," study author Marc Gillinov, M.D., of the Cleveland Clinic, said in a news release from the American College of Cardiology. "Overall, they were most accurate when someone was using the treadmill at low intensity and worst when exercising on the elliptical at high intensity."

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