A new study says commercial heart rate apps are not accurate. Apparently, these applications installed in almost all modern smartphones nowadays produce varying results.
Dr. Christophe Wyss, as reported by Science Daily, stressed that the problem is that no law requiring the validation of these online consultations are available at the moment. Thus, there is no way for consumers to know if the results they are getting are true to actual findings. Per the same source, the European Society of Cardiology researchers used four unidentified commercial heart rate apps. Dr. Wyss is a cardiologist at Heart Clinic Zurich.
Furthermore, the samples were limited to those installed in two phones only, the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5. For the record, some applications use contact photoplethysmography while others operate on the non-contact variant. The former works by touching the gadget’s built-in camera while the other functions through sensors.
On the other hand, the study included 108 patients who had their heart rates measured through electrocardiogram (ECG), pulse oximetry, and the digital apps. Eventually, the experts found “substantial differences in accuracy between the four apps. In some of the samples, the results were different from ECG by 20 beats per minute in over 20 percent of the measurements.
Consequently, the non-contact apps performed worse, particularly at higher heart rates and lower body temperatures. The researchers only noted that non-contact variants had tendencies to overestimate. Interestingly, the findings on the two contact apps were also different. One of them showed almost the same results as to pulse oximetry but the other one did not give the correct count at all.
Nevertheless, according to Eureka Alert, the experts acknowledge that the app that measured almost exactly as to pulse oximetry was excellent. Dr. Wyss believe that the difference in performance between contact and non-contact apps might be down to the confidential algorithms they use to calculate the heart rate. It means that just because one technology worked for one app does not mean that it works in others.