Published:  2021

Cross-instrument feasibility, validity, and reproducibility of wireless heart rate monitors: Novel opportunities for extended daily life monitoring

Authors:  Yoram K. Kunkels, Arie M. van Roon, Marieke Wichers, Harriëtte Riese

Tags:  adolescents, cardiovascular, heart rate, heart rate variability

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Wired ambulatory monitoring of the electrocardiogram (ECG) is an established method used by researchers and clinicians. Recently, a new generation of wireless, compact, and relatively inexpensive heart rate monitors have become available. However, before these monitors can be used in scientific research and clinical practice, their feasibility, validity, and reproducibility characteristics have to be investigated. Therefore, we tested how two wireless heart rate monitors (i.e., the Ithlete photoplethysmography (PPG) finger sensor and the Cortrium C3 ECG monitor perform against an established wired reference method (the VU-AMS ambulatory ECG monitor). Monitors were tested on cross-instrument and test-retest reproducibility in a controlled laboratory setting, while feasibility was evaluated in protocolled ambulatory settings at home. We found that the Cortrium and the Ithlete monitors showed acceptable agreement with the VU-AMS reference in laboratory setting. In ambulatory settings, assessments were feasible with both wireless devices although more valid data were obtained with the Cortrium than with the Ithlete. We conclude that both monitors have their merits under controlled laboratory settings where motion artefacts are minimized and stationarity of the ECG signal is optimized by design. These findings are promising for long-term ambulatory ECG measurements, although more research is needed to test whether the wireless devices’ feasibility, validity, and reproducibility characteristics also hold in unprotocolled daily life settings with natural variations in posture and activities.