Difference between a Smartwatch and the IDOVEN sports heart study

In today's post we will answer one of the questions we receive each week on our contact form.

What is the difference between the services we offer at IDOVEN and a Smartwatch?

They are two totally different and complementary services/products.

Smartwatches have managed to keep clients and sportsmen informed and, little by little, to interpret indirect data from their heart: the pulse.  

In medicine, a person's pulse is a pressure wave caused by the expansion of the arteries as a result of the circulation of blood pumped by the heart. It is usually obtained in parts of the body where the arteries are closest to the skin, such as the wrists or neck.

What data do these devices offer us and what have we learned from them?

Now we understand what pulsations we have at rest, pulsations while doing sport or during sleep hours. Smartwatches perform this measurement using a technology called photoplethysmography that detects pulse waves: an infrared light source (LED) emits a beam on the skin to illuminate the small arteries under the skin, these arteries reflect part of this beam of light depending on the number of red blood cells they contain. Underneath this watch, you can see this LED light illuminating the wrist. This very common technology gives us some indirect data of the heart cycle (how often the heartbeats and with what rhythm) but never a professional diagnosis. With it, we know the heart rate (in beats per minute).

A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Generally, a lower resting heart rate means more efficient heart function and improved cardiovascular fitness. For example, a well-trained athlete may have a normal resting heart rate of 40 - 50 beats per minute.

Many athletes and clients are interested in the state of their hearts. We believe that in the future this practice will follow the upward trend it has been experiencing in recent years.

Even so, we want to explain the main differences between a Smartwatch and the technology we use in IDOVEN:

  • Direct measurement of the heart: As mentioned above, a smartwatch is measured indirectly at the wrist. The Nuubo sports holter that we use at IDOVEN is a breastplate that is placed on the torso and directly measures the electrical activity of the heart: electrocardiogram.
  • EKG time: A smartwatch such as Garmin, Polar, Fitbit, or Google's Wear OS usually measures only the pulse wave continuously. The few smartwatches that are also capable of performing a single-lead EKG like the Apple Watch Series 5 can only do so for a maximum of 30 seconds of monitoring. Our cardiac monitoring services measure heart activity continuously for a minimum of 24 hours = 86,400 seconds and we have measured someone's heart for 85 days.
  • "Hands-free": To perform an EKG on a smartwatch like the latest model of the Apple Series 5 you need to have both hands. The watch must be in contact with your wrist and the fingers of your opposite hand must touch the strap or case to record that 30-second EKG. Therefore it cannot be done while practicing a sport or sleeping for example. Buying our service you can monitor yourself doing any activity (running, cycling, skiing...) or sleeping. This makes the monitoring of the electrocardiogram real life and not a specific moment that lasts 30 seconds in static so we get information with a greater clinical utility to know the status of that heart.
  • The number of monitored beats: With 30-second monitoring, approximately 30 beats are monitored. With the 7-day cardiac monitoring service that we offer at IDOVEN, more than 1 million heartbeats can be monitored.
  • Detected heart problems: the few smartwatches that are capable of recording electrocardiograms are currently developed to detect at most only one arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation, while the artificial intelligence that we are developing at IDOVEN currently detects the 58 most frequent arrhythmias (affecting millions of people who sometimes do not know they are having them).
  • Medical diagnosis: smartwatches, when they detect any alteration in your pulse, sometimes recommend that you take a specific test to analyze that alteration in your heart rhythm. In the case of IDOVEN, we detect what the problem may be (in case there is one) and our medical team specialized in arrhythmias and sports cardiology gives you the necessary recommendation to try to solve it.

From IDOVEN we believe that these types of products are complementary to our remote cardiology services.

You can wear a watch like this and want to know your heart rate in your real life (training, resting, and working) but not to get rid of any heart problem or pathology.

A clear example of this is the case of Juan. Juan hired our 7-day remote sports heart study because your Garmin watch recommended at the last update that you set an alarm to check if at any time your heart rate was abnormally low. This alarm made John realize that his pulse at night was dropping below 40 beats per minute. That's why he wanted to know a little bit more about the state of his heart and hired one of our medical studies through the web. In the analysis of this continuous monitoring of his electrocardiogram for 7 days we have seen that his heart rate at night (known as severe sinus bradycardia) is normal. We have been able to explain to Juan that his heart is adapting perfectly to the training he has been doing for the last 6 months after a period of less physical activity. We have been able to assure him with medical data that those night periods when his heart is "at idle" is not due to an arrhythmia or cardiac pathology but that the heart is assimilating the training loads of the day.  

Thanks to services such as the one we offer, based on big data and artificial intelligence, we make professional cardiology available to our clients from a distance anywhere in the world. Making it a win-win situation for everyone. Clients are more informed and know how to interpret their hearts, and professional doctors have more time to focus on the cases that demand our knowledge.

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