According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of American adults suffer from cardiovascular disease. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most frequent irregular arrhythmia condition in the United States. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), over 5 million Americans suffer from it. People who suffer from it are at a high risk of strokes and heart failure. AFib may be permanent or appear transiently.
Home EKG (electrocardiogram) devices are beneficial. They keep track of your heartbeat whether you’re at home or even on the move. There are three main categories of home EKG devices: Smartwatch, Chest-strap EKG, and Handheld EKG. Always check with your doctor or other medical professional if these devices are recommended in your specific case, and never interpret the results by yourself.
No need anymore to use 12-leads clinical-grade devices. At-home electrocardiograms use built-in sensors that act as electrodes to keep track of the heart’s electrical activity. All the information gathered by home EKG devices is stored in an app on your smartphone so you can share the results with your doctor. Always favor an FDA cleared or approved device to ensure the reliability of the results.
1) Smartwatch EKG: Apple Watch, Fitbit Sense, Galaxy Watch3
The home EKG smartwatches measure your heart rate through photoplethysmography (PPG). It involves the use of light beams as well as light-sensitive sensors that are built-in to the smartwatch. It keeps track of the blood flow through the veins in the wrist due to the peripheral pulse. The pulse gives a PPG and hence estimates whether your heartbeat is normal or you have AFib.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 offers various functions, including measuring ECG, oxygen saturation levels, and blood pressure. The design is unique. It has a rotating bezel that makes it stand out from other smartwatches. It will quickly and easily detect AFib and any other abnormalities in the heart rhythm. The watch comes with a 340 mAh battery and comes in two sizes, 41mm or 45mm.
Apple Watch Series 6
It’s undoubtedly one of the top smartwatches available in the market. It offers a variety of features, including sleep tracking and ECG monitoring. It has a large display of 44mm, and it also has a 1-lead and PPG. The smartwatch offers results in only 30 seconds. The main disadvantage is the battery.
Fitbit Sense is the latest model in the Fitbit series. It contains everything you’d need in a smartwatch, including ECG and stress measurement. The watch uses an ElectroDermal Activity (EDA) sensor. You can measure ECG by placing two fingers on the sense rim to complete an electrical circuit, and you will have results in 30 seconds. The only con is the slow response it has compared to the other smartwatches.
Pros of EKG smartwatches
- Help with the easy screening of Atrial Fibrillations.
- They help in the evaluation of people suffering from palpitations.
- Smartwatches empower patients.
- Enhance lifestyle changes and monitoring of Atrial Fibrillations.
Cons of EKG smartwatches
- They’re expensive hence not easily accessible to everyone.
- Due to the use of single-lead ECG and PPG, they may be clinically unreliable.
- They don’t have continuous tracking.
- Despite being HIPAA compliant, they might lead to a possible breach of privacy.
2) Chest-Strap EKG
The home EKG chest-strap monitors are worn around the chest to monitor your heartbeat. The chest-strap has a transmitter linked through a short-range wireless signal to a receiver. The receiver can be a phone app, watch, or wearable fitness device. The sensors in the device capture the heart rate, and the receivers calculate the information. However, the strap-free heart rate monitors are more advanced and convenient than the chest-strap monitors.
Wellue Strap-Free Heart Rate Monitor
It’s a strap-free heart rate monitor that offers medical-grade accuracy. It’s redesigned to make up for the flaws of other similar devices in the market. They’re electrode patches worn around the chest that are comfortable and stable compared to the chest-strap monitors. You don’t need to carry your phone. It transfers the data, and you find it all synced on the app. The Bluetooth connectivity allows for real-time EKG and heart rate monitoring.
Wellue DuoEK Wearable EKG/ECG Monitor
The device has many great features, including instant EKG analysis, a recording duration of 30 seconds to 15 minutes, Lead I and Lead II, and built-in memory. You can easily do a test by simply placing your fingers on the electrodes. It’s wearable with both the chest-strap and the handheld.
Pros of Chest-Strap heart rate monitors
- Deliver data that is medically accurate.
- Offer real-time 24-hour heart rate monitoring.
- Data is automatically transferred to the mobile app that vibrates when you have an irregular heartbeat.
Cons of Chest-Strap heart rate monitors
- If the strap isn’t snug enough, the measurement might be inaccurate.
- If you move too fast when exercising, the error might be more significant.
3) Handheld EKG
These types of home EKG devices measure your heart rate through electrical signals produced by the heart and spread through the whole body and on the skin. The handheld ECG device picks up the electrical signals through electrodes when held on your palm. The following devices are some of the best hybrid handheld home EKG devices.
Wellue Personal EKG Monitor
This home EKG monitor can be used either handheld or with wired electrodes. The key features include 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and up to 5 minutes recording duration, noise-free ECG, plus electro pads and cable. Monitoring is done through the palm. It also has dual and single-user modes.
Kardia Mobile home EKG monitor
AliveCor offers a portable device with a lot of great features. The main ones include: it’s FDA cleared to detect Atrial Fibrillation among other conditions, is small enough to be carried everywhere, provides a medical-grade EKG in only 30 seconds, and there are no wires or gels; you place your hand on the sensors. It’s compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones. The KardiaMobile devices start at less than $90 for the single lead device and $150 for the 6-lead one. To be noted that the company also offers a monthly subscription, KardiaCare, for $9.99 per month, offering the possibility for the EKGs to be reviewed by cardiologists. Check our full review of the AliveCor KardiaMobile-6L.
Pros of handheld home EKG
- Small and easily portable.
- Cheaper compared to other devices.
- Short recording durations.
- They offer unlimited storage, and the results can be shared with your doctor.
Cons of handheld EKG
- You might not get an accurate EKG if your palms are too dry or if you tremble.
To wrap up
Home EKGs offer a new way to monitor heart rhythm in non-clinical setting. Even though, these devices will never replace 12-leads electrocardiograms, they have a lot to offer. Talk to your doctor for advice about these innovative means to take control of your heart health.