IMG 9389Are smart watches that track heart rates accurate for people who have heart problems?

'Smart technology' is part of daily life. We have smart phones, smart cars and smart refrigerators.

Some of us even use smart watches to track our daily health and fitness activity.

But are smart watches accurate?

Dr Andrew Teh, Jinthin Sajeev and Louise Roberts decided to find out.

As Dr Teh says, “I’m a cardiologist with an interest in electrophysiology. Our research is looking into smart technologies and their potential role in cardiovascular health”.

Advances in research and technology have meant patients have a greater chance of survival. As Louise explains, “in the 1960s, the survival rate was 60%. People never fully recovered as we didn’t know what drugs to give them. Today, the survival rate is 96% because of research and advancements in healthcare”.

The team understand that smart technology is progressing faster than the healthcare system. They often consult with cardiac patients who are tracking their own heart rates at home using smart watches.

"Patients wonder whether the data they are colleting from their smart watch is reliable," explains Dr Teh. "As the watches and other devices have been designed for fitness, this left doctors unable to determine if the data was reliable".

The team is focussing on whether smart devices are accurate, by comparing the results from Apple and Fitbit watches to a medical-grade telemetry unit that records an accurate heart rate.

"Smart devices may help medical teams in the future to understand what happens to a patient once they leave hospital and resume their lives," says Dr Teh.

Find out more about Research Grants that benefit patients at Eastern Health.