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Your Guide To The Best Heart Rate Monitors For Older Adults – Forbes

A heart rate monitor is a device designed to capture information regarding a person’s pulse and share that information in real time. Most heart rate monitors intended for personal use are called optical heart rate monitors, and they typically come in the form of wristbands, wristwatches and chest straps. Many smartwatches available today feature optical heart rate monitoring technology. Meanwhile, heart rate monitors used in medical settings instead feature a set of electrodes in the form of small plastic patches that sit on the skin and read electrical signals from the heart.

Heart rate is one of the key indicators of overall health and physical fitness. Both your resting heart rate and maximum heart rate (typically reached during intense physical activity) can provide helpful information about the state of your cardiovascular health and whether certain lifestyle changes could benefit your overall wellness.

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How Does a Heart Rate Monitor Work?

Optical heartrate monitors use photoplethysmography (PPG) technology to measure heart rate. Essentially, PPG involves shining light into the skin and subsequently measuring the amount of light that’s scattered by the body’s blood flow. The ways in which gentle scatters as blood dynamics change (such as with a variable heart rate) is thought to be predictable and can therefore be captured by an algorithm that translates the information into a real-time heart rate reading.

Heart rate monitors designed for personal use typically feature such optical sensors that can measure heart rate through the skin’s surface. The sensors usually sit on the inside of the wrist, which is where many medical professionals recommend measuring pulse rate manually, or on the chest just below the heart.

Meanwhile, heart rate monitors used in medical settings connect a set of electrodes to an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine via wires. A medical professional places the electrodes on the patient’s chest plus abdomen, which then read electrical signals from the heart and transmit the resulting information in real time to an accompanying computer for recording. A portable version of this technology called a Holter patch is also available for ambulatory use under the guidance of a medical professional. Today, patch monitoring has largely replaced traditional Holter monitoring.

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