Is it as accurate as an EKG?

A Washington Post Article covers a growing consumer battle with wearables companies. What happens when the marketing doesn’t mesh with the performance (compared to an EKG)?

More Pressure to Differentiate

With the proliferation of heart rate monitors in the market comes greater competition and greater pressure on manufacturers to differentiate. Some makers who’ve been using accuracy as the means to do it, may come to regret it sooner than later.

Technology has changed but the Gold Standard has not

If there is a battle of opinion technology approach, there is total agreement in the gold standard for measuring heart rate. The EKG is the bechmark for accuracy. It’s that very benchmark that some consumers are using as leverage against wearables manufacturers.

Conflicting Studies

If there is a battle of opinion in what wearable tech, sampling method and approach works best at rest or at high intensity movement; there is total agreement in the gold standard for measuring heart rate. The EKG is the benchmark for accuracy and it’s that benchmark that some consumers are using as leverage against wearables manufacturers.
In an article earlier this year, we linked to a Stanford study that showed a remarkably high accuracy rating to the EKG (within 5%). The devices tested included:
  1. Apple Watch
  2. Basis Peak
  3. Fitbit Surge
  4. Microsoft Band
  5. Mio Alpha 2
  6. PulseOn
  7. Samsung Gear S2

Her results appeared to match what dozens of other customers had found out for themselves: Fitbit’s reports on her heart rate were off, in some cases, by up to 30 heartbeats per minute. Washington Post

Cleveland Clinic and Peer Reviewed Studies

While the Stanford study was overwhelmingly positive, there are plenty of other studies that contradict it. A Cleveland clinic study published in Science Daily put 5 popular wrist-worn fitness trackers to a heart-rate test at varying intensity levels. The Levels of Agreement (how it compared to an EKG) varied from .67-.92 against control.  An independent biomed study published earlier this year concluded

criterion measure were wide (+16.8 to -28.5 bpm) indicating that an individual heart rate measure could plausibly be underestimated by almost 30 bpm.

Summary
How Your HRM Compares to the Gold Standard EKG
Article Name
How Your HRM Compares to the Gold Standard EKG
Description
If there is a battle of opinion in what wearable tech, sampling method and approach works best at rest or at high intensity movement; there is total agreement in the gold standard for measuring heart rate. The EKG is the benchmark for accuracy and it’s that benchmark that some consumers are using as leverage against wearables manufacturers.
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KAN
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