Heart disease remains one of the leading killers of adults globally. Statistics updated in October 2022 show that around 17.9 million people die worldwide from cardiovascular disease each year, and over 800,000 people in the United States have heart attacks annually. Many smart wearable devices can help patients living with heart disease support their health.
Heart disease is a leading killer of adults worldwide, but wearable technology can help diagnose, monitor, and treat cardiovascular patients with positive results.
Smart wearables come in various options, including watches, patches, rings, and finger bands. Most devices track heart rate, record physical activity, and monitor blood pressure and other cardiovascular signals.
A primary benefit of smart wearables for cardiovascular care is the data they capture and record, which can be shared with your cardiology team.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show around 805,000 people in the U.S. have heart attacks each year. Three-quarters of these are first-time patients who could have avoided the attack if their risk level had been recognized and regular screening had taken place. Thankfully, technology is advancing rapidly, and the number of smart wearable devices for cardiovascular care is increasing equally fast.
Wearable formats and functions
Smart wearable devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Smartwatches such as the Apple Watch and Fitbit are the most common, followed by patches, bands, and rings. Most of the current devices monitor one or more of the following functions:
- Heart rate and pulse
- Heart rhythm
- Blood pressure
- Body temperature
- Physical activity
- Patient weight and BMI
- Calorie intake
- Exercise and fitness
- Body posture
- Risk of falling
While several wearable devices have undergone clinical or cardiovascular trials, and some are even approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many have not been clinically tested. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t work for patients, depending on your needs.
Smart cardiovascular wearables to consider
As of 2022, several smart wearable devices are FDA-cleared and have many completed and published trials behind them. The benefits of smart wearables for cardiovascular care include the ability to record vital signals and share the data with your doctor, reminders about medication and exercise, and alerts when something out of the ordinary occurs.
In addition to all the fun things they can do, smart watches track unusually high or low heart rates and irregular heart rhythms and notify you when you need medical attention. Most also track physical activity and monitor your sleep cycle; some provide walking steadiness metrics to help you keep an eye on your risk of falling.
The more sophisticated models deliver regular reminders about your exercise plans and medication cycles, and, in a health crisis, some watches can enable the wearer to call emergency services. Several models including the Garmin Vivomove and the Galaxy Watch Active 2 connect to smartphone apps that offer mindfulness and meditation programs to help reduce stress and promote cardiovascular wellness.
Wearable electronic patches help cardiologists diagnose heart conditions, monitor heart disease progression, and administer medication. The soft, flexible devices connect to your soft tissue to create a platform through which electronic feedback passes to capture data about your heart rate, blood oxygen levels, temperature, and blood pressure (BP) readings.
The patches use a thin, continuous BP monitoring sensor to collect electrocardiogram (ECG) measurements from your chest. In many ways, smart patches are the most convenient wearables because they cause patients little discomfort, increasing their tolerance for the devices and extending their wear.
Smart finger bands and rings
Many people are unaware that smartwatches have competition in the form of smart rings. Devices such as the Oura ring collect similar data about health, sleep, and other attributes from the large blood vessels in your finger.
They can measure heart rate and body temperature using research-grade sensors that track physical and mental recovery and workouts. Some rings offer a “guided audio” component, which includes over 50 sessions for meditation, sleep, and other focus areas critical for good heart health.
Smart rings such as the Circular models usually come in lightweight titanium with non-allergenic, non-metallic inner molding, often with interchangeable outer shells for customizing your look. They take around 60 minutes to recharge, after which the battery life lasts approximately four days. These are ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to wear a watch but needs some smart functionality for managing their heart condition.
Implants, jewelry, and headbands, oh my!
Wearables have been an area of technological innovation for several years. Over time, a range of items has briefly appeared on the market before fading into obscurity. Smart earrings such as Joule’s fitness-tracker backings are still making their way onto the market, while headphones and a smart sleeve have already seen their day in the sun.
Most recently, researchers from Ohio State University developed a smart necklace biosensor that monitors physical health through a person’s sweat. Meanwhile, an implantable sensor presently available to cardiology providers is designed to improve the monitoring of pulmonary artery pressure in patients.
Living with heart disease
Many people diagnosed with heart disease live well for 20 years or more, provided they manage their condition carefully. Lifestyle changes can help, such as following a healthy diet and exercise regimen, avoiding stress, and taking medication as prescribed.
The use of smart wearable devices for cardiovascular care can help support you by tracking your heart rate, taking electrocardiogram (ECG) readings, recording your physical activities, and checking your blood pressure. Some of these devices can be synchronized with smartphone apps or remote monitoring services provided by your cardiologist.
Getting a heart disease diagnosis can be frightening, but it’s an opportunity to improve your vigilance and manage your condition. Wearables can empower you to record your data and follow your treatment effectively to ensure a long and healthy life.