Smartwatch / Wearable for Heart recommendations

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csigabiga

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Hi Everyone,

My surgery is coming up in the next few months, so I thought it might be prudent to buy at a smart watch that can help me be aware of my heart, especially after surgery.

What features should I be looking for, and does anyone have any suggestions for a good watch or wearable?

I use an Android phone and would probably want to stay in that eco system if there was a great option

Thanks in advance for your help
 

Dano64

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Sorry, I am Apple, but I did buy an Apple watch last year before my procedure. It can tell me my blood oxygen, do an ECG, heart rate. There can probably be more but that is what I have used. Love it!
 

tom in MO

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I can't recommend a watch-monitor since I don't use one. The best thing to do is attend cardiac rehab and ask them what type of monitor they'd recommend for whatever state you are after surgery. For me, no routine monitoring outside of what they did in rehab was needed. At rehab for ~12 weeks, they monitored my pulse rate, BP and oxygen before and after exercise. Some people have had conditions (not related to surgery) where the ECG feature was helpful and suggested by a cardio.
 

pellicle

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I use an Android phone and would probably want to stay in that eco system if there was a great option
pretty much all are good now. The only thing you'll need to be aware of is that ectopic beats will often disrupt the correct determination of HR. This is because of the way that the watch is limited:
  • uses only the back of the wrist
  • determines timing between beats and uses that frequency (measured in fractions of a second) to determine what the beat rate is over 60 seconds
  • a lot of signal noise occurs for the watch as a result of movement. (notice that doing an ECG they have you
    1. still (not moving)
    2. use adhesive sensors placed at significant points
Given all that it requires some considerable computing power to even make sense of it all.

Back some time ago just after to my 3rd OHS (had one about every 20 years) I used a training watch with a strap, but it would frequently go spakko because of the above issues (even with a chest strap) and require I made sure that the chest strap had good salty connection (sweat). I often contemplated using the electro-conducting gel but didn't (a friend has told me he uses it and it is an amazingly good improvement).

So having said that I migrated to a Garmin because Garmin has a long history in specialisation in this area and because its phone agnostic.

They have a huge range and I'd suggest that you should look at the Vivosmart 4 as a starter ... I mean if you don't need GPS (you'll have your phone anyway right?) and don't want to have calls, sms's and other sHite like that appearing on it.

I also use this app for GPS tracking on my phone

it works well to produce what I want for everything from bicycle routes through to speed and altitude testing of my scooter.


you can easily tune the "sample rate" (you don't need a speed and altitude sample 10 times a second in most situations) to reduce how much storage it takes up (recording your trip) and for walking I find a sample every 30 seconds sufficient.

Best Wishes
 
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skier

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I'll second the Garmin recommendation.

Apple watches don't work with Android (and have terrible battery life).

Fitbit is another option that works as well as lower-end Garmin devices for most that don't need serious athlete features. The problem with Fitbit since Google bought them is they are now charging $9.99/month to access historical data beyond seven days. That's crazy.

Historical data has always been free on Garmin, and they are advertising that fact against Fitbit, so it should remain free. I have almost a decade of data in Garmin Connect from many different Garmin devices and use it to look back to compare current health stats and activities to where I was historically.

What features should I be looking for, and does anyone have any suggestions for a good watch or wearable?

A bunch of questions will determine if you should get a $100 or $1000 Garmin:

What do you want to track? All-day and resting heart rate? Heart rate during activities? What activities? Running, biking, swimming, hiking, skiing, golf, strength training, walking, other activities? Do you want to use a chest strap for more accurate HR during activities? Do you want to wear it to sleep to track sleep and resting heart rate? Budget?

I'm happy to help recommend a device. I currently use a Fenix 5, Vivosmart 4, and Vivomove, and hate to admit how many others. :rolleyes:
 

csigabiga

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Thank you everyone for the recommendations! I'd say I'm about 2 months away from surgery, so the thing is, I'm not really sure what I should be monitoring. Not after surgery, nor before surgery to establish a baseline. I guess heart rate at rest and exercise would be important? Maybe the ability to do ekgs?
What else did you find important to monitor during recovery?
Budget will be about 2 to 5 hundred. Only want to go over 4 hundred if it's really worth it
 

JohnStone

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Thank you everyone for the recommendations! I'd say I'm about 2 months away from surgery, so the thing is, I'm not really sure what I should be monitoring. Not after surgery, nor before surgery to establish a baseline. I guess heart rate at rest and exercise would be important? Maybe the ability to do ekgs?
What else did you find important to monitor during recovery?
Budget will be about 2 to 5 hundred. Only want to go over 4 hundred if it's really worth it
my husband has a Garmin Instinct 2 & loves it. Before his valve started failing he was an avid cyclist, so it was important for him to be able to track his recovery (as well as get a general record of his heart rate and make sure he’s not pushing himself too hard)
 

AZATADINE

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Yup 3 months out his biking can resume! I was amazed that I bounced back that quick - just need to give a rest for bone to heal ( sternum break😀) and tissues to blend.
Yeah, I was told that I was ok to get back on a bike after 3 months as well. I wanted to do it a bit earlier as I was a bit fed up just walking but my surgeon advised to wait 3 months due to the vibrations that come through the handlebars and the effect those vibrations might have on healing bones.
 

skier

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Thank you everyone for the recommendations! I'd say I'm about 2 months away from surgery, so the thing is, I'm not really sure what I should be monitoring. Not after surgery, nor before surgery to establish a baseline. I guess heart rate at rest and exercise would be important? Maybe the ability to do ekgs?
What else did you find important to monitor during recovery?
Budget will be about 2 to 5 hundred. Only want to go over 4 hundred if it's really worth it

I'm almost seven months out from surgery, and I found the most basic features were the most important to track:
  • Steps
  • 24/7 heart rate, including resting heart rate
  • Sleep
You can do all those with a Garmin Vivosmart 4 or Vivosmart 5. What I like about those devices is they are small enough to be comfortable while sleeping.

The downside to the smaller size is the screen is harder to read, and the user interface is more difficult to use. That makes interacting with the device to log activities difficult compared to using watch-size Garmin.

The Vivosmart 5 is a bit larger, and added a button to make it easier to use. It also added a feature (that I haven't tried) to use your phone and its GPS to log activities (neither Vivosmart has built-in GPS).

The reason to step up to a larger Garmin is the built-in GPS, plus the ability to easily track different activities (running, biking, swimming, hiking, skiing, golf, and countless others). They will also connect to a chest strap heart rate monitor, giving you more accurate heart rate during activities. The wrist-based heart rate does well when still but is less accurate when moving.

But will you be willing to wear a larger device while sleeping to get 24/7 heart rate? I'd rather not, so I have a Vivosmart 4 for sleeping and a Fenix 5 for tracking activities.

For the first month after surgery, I would have been fine with just my Vivosmart 4, as all I was doing was walking, and the basic step counter was fine. It wasn't until I started cardiac rehab that I wanted to track my indoor biking and walking/running on the treadmill and started using a chest strap.
 

pellicle

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Maybe the ability to do ekgs?
I'd leave that to the proper gear. Even dedicated stuff that works through your phone is patchy at best. HR itself is the most useful indicator for you (and seeing its recovery time from rest). To be honest to best understand that you need to track that manually (no software does it that I've seen as they are usually tailored for training)
What else did you find important to monitor during recovery?
  • daily step count (as an indicator of you doing exersize)
  • active kCal may be a good indicator too
  • knowing what you did and how your HR responded to that (and factoring in if you are on betablockers. Nothing beats a succinct journal with numbers
Eg
walked up that hill this afternoon, kept a good pace Max HR was 155, average was 130 on walk. Dropped to 110 within 5 minutes. Dropped to 80 after half an hour.
 

Critter

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I just got an Apple Watch Ultra. Best watch I have ever owned so far. To top it off with the oceanic app it turns it into a dive computer with Nitrox gas algorithms built in. Excellent topside and underwater compass. They had a few sales here earlier. The watch is capable of doing a lead 1 ekg rhythm strip. Which is sent to users iPhone which in turn you can do anything you want with the tracing look at it, email to a professional, I don‘t need to do that since I can read EKG’s. I recommend this device whole “heartedly”.
 

csigabiga

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So seems like steps and heart rate seem to be the most important
I'm almost seven months out from surgery, and I found the most basic features were the most important to track:
  • Steps
  • 24/7 heart rate, including resting heart rate
  • Sleep
You can do all those with a Garmin Vivosmart 4 or Vivosmart 5. What I like about those devices is they are small enough to be comfortable while sleeping.

The downside to the smaller size is the screen is harder to read, and the user interface is more difficult to use. That makes interacting with the device to log activities difficult compared to using watch-size Garmin.

The Vivosmart 5 is a bit larger, and added a button to make it easier to use. It also added a feature (that I haven't tried) to use your phone and its GPS to log activities (neither Vivosmart has built-in GPS).

The reason to step up to a larger Garmin is the built-in GPS, plus the ability to easily track different activities (running, biking, swimming, hiking, skiing, golf, and countless others). They will also connect to a chest strap heart rate monitor, giving you more accurate heart rate during activities. The wrist-based heart rate does well when still but is less accurate when moving.

But will you be willing to wear a larger device while sleeping to get 24/7 heart rate? I'd rather not, so I have a Vivosmart 4 for sleeping and a Fenix 5 for tracking activities.

For the first month after surgery, I would have been fine with just my Vivosmart 4, as all I was doing was walking, and the basic step counter was fine. It wasn't until I started cardiac rehab that I wanted to track my indoor biking and walking/running on the treadmill and started using a chest strap.
The Vivosmart (5 now) seems like a pretty good option, but the Fitbit Charge has a nicer color display , and EKG ability, which seems like it might be helpful after surgery. I would go with the Charge if not Fitbit being gross about charging for historical data which I also find kinda gross. I checked out the Fenix 5. I like that it is better for heart monitoring and that you can add a strap but is a bit more than I would want to spend and I'd prefer something a bit more stylish.
So I guess my wishlist would be:

-step count
-heart rate 24/7 (not sure if heart rate variability matters)
-sleep
-ecg monitoring
-decent bat life
-active kcal
-a chance to connect to a chest strap in the future (nice to have)
-somewhat stylish (nice to have)
-between 2-400
Any suggestions based on that? Maybe a watch is more the right direction? Maybe a Samsung?
 

skier

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Have a look at this great comparison of the Vivosmart 5 and the Fitbit Charge 5:


DC Rainmaker does fantastic reviews. I'd suggest you check out his review and the comments on any device you are considering.

I agree with his thoughts about ECG that it's only important for a small percentage of folks. I bought a Kardia Mobile, thinking it might be important, but I hardly use it because I'm always in normal sinus rhythm. The Kardia Mobile is a fantastic device that's not very expensive and nice to have around just in case. I also trust it a lot more than I would the Fitbit ECG.

The same goes for pulse ox measurements. I've found the pulse ox of my Vivosmart 5 to be only a novelty because it's not very accurate. A $15 fingertip pulse ox is way better than the best wrist-based sensors.

Many less expensive devices can connect to a chest strap HRM. Here are the countless Garmins that do so:

Maybe look through those pictures for a style you like. The Vivoactive 4 is on sale for just $179 (V 5 is probably coming out soon):

 
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