Heart Rate Monitors

(Bob ) #1

I’ve been going down a few rabbit holes on HRMs. It’s mostly for cycling, but I’m also interested in Heart Rate Variability that I’ve been hearing about, and anything else I can learn from a good HRM. I think I read that some of the high end monitors could essentially record a simple EKG - at least a display of your pulse vs. time. (No real EKG waveform).

I thought I’d ask around and see what other forum members were using.


I’ve always read that any good chest band HRM is the best choice for athletic pursuits.

That said, I use an HRM to monitor my normal heart rates and resting rates because of bradycardia (low heart rate). Also for walking rates as well.

I’ve used a Fitbit HR 2 wrist band/watch in the past and it worked quite well but it struggles with higher rates.

Currently I am wearing a new Apple Watch 4 and it’s HRM Tracks pretty well and constantly adjusts. And there is supposed to be a rudimentary EKG update coming out.

(Bob ) #3

The market has changed a lot since I was looking at HRMs 10 years or ago. Now the high end units like the Polar H10, are only a chest strap unit that link by Bluetooth to your phone and the App does the display and adds features. The size of the watch the old Polar HRMs used to have limited what they could display. Linking to the phone adds the capability of a pretty good computer and a lot more display options. OTOH, I’d need to get a phone mount for my bike to take it with me.

I understand the FitBits and the Apple Watches can measure heart rate variability. I’m a bit curious about that, but haven’t been curious enough to buy something, so far.

(ianrobo) #4

I use a Garmin for HRV and gives you some decent stuff but wrist HRM are not that great on the bike (the way you hold the bars and leave light in so always use a strap for perfect accuracy

(Bob ) #5

Thanks, @ianrobo. HRV is at the top of my “want to have” list. I think I’ve heard the Apple watches do it as well. Not sure if all watches do it.

What I’d really like doesn’t appear to exist: something that could say, “you’re heart is going FUBAR - you’d better throttle back. Or else, you’d better call an ambulance”.

The only things I know that can get close to doing that require too much of you to consider using during any exercise, especially not cycling. Things like applying electrodes to your body, or taking multiple readings in multiple places on your body, or put both hands on the device. You probably need to be completely still while it’s measuring you.

(ianrobo) #6

I think that kind of device would be bad because of the false positives, Apple, will have ECG type tech but having some issues getting it past the FDA and nowhere to be seen for Europe for example.

Best way to test your heart is yourself IMHO you know your heart better than any machine and if you feel it is wrong call emergency services …

(Bob ) #7

There are a couple of devices approved in the US. Probably best known is the Kardia Mobile. Not suitable for riding as you need to put two hands on the electrodes for around 30 seconds. Oh, yeah, I won’t bother to steer the bike for 30 seconds. :roll_eyes:

A few years ago, I had several days with bad sensations and was told I showed A-fib. In the nearly 5 years since then, I’ve never had any sensation I knew was A-fib, and the only time I’ve had something I thought might be A-fib, I was at home, in bed, in the early morning hours. From what I’ve been able to find, A-fib is associated with cardio exercise. This study said it was five times more common in endurance athletes (runners in particular). OTOH, some studies have shown that fitness acts like anti-arrhythmia drug - that overweight sedentary people who become fitter reduce their arrhythmia load.

I’ve been on a quest to understand this contradiction.

(ianrobo) #8

those studies were they done on pro’s or amateurs ??

(Bob ) #9

Doesn’t say. Let me lift a bit of a quote here (bold added by me):

In the general population, the prevalence of AF in individuals aged 45 to 54 is about 0.5% and increases to roughly 1% in those aged 55 to 64, and to approximately 4% in those 65 to 74.2 The prevalence of AF in similarly aged endurance athletes is significantly higher. A recent literature search and subsequent meta-analysis of 6 case-control studies found a 5-fold increased risk for AF in endurance runners. A total of 1550 individuals with a mean age of 51 were compared; 93% were men. The odds ratio for AF in athletes versus controls was 5.29.3 In this meta-analysis and other studies investigating gender differences, the risk for AF in endurance athletes was strikingly higher in men than in women—with 1 important study demonstrating a prevalence of 6.7% in men versus 0% in women.4

Two established mechanistic factors underlying the development of AF are atrial remodeling and the effects of the autonomic nervous system.1 These factors are frequently altered in endurance athletes and may be causally related to the increased incidence of AF in these individuals.

The referenced paper is:

Abdulla J, Nielsen JR. Is the risk of atrial fibrillation higher in athletes than in the general population? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Europace . 2009;11:1156-1159.

The text of the paper is online at Europace. Based on the statistics on ages of the study participants, I would guess these were amateurs. Possibly former pros, but nothing is stated specifically. One of the six studies is cyclists. They averaged 64, with a range of +/- 7 years (as I read it).