Wearable devices equipped with ECG biosensors are poised to completely revolutionize health and wellness, playing an increasingly important role in collecting personal health data. The ability to acquire ECG data by means of wearable devices, paired with applications on smartphones and tablets, have enabled the monitoring of heart health metrics that offer insight into a range of health trends and provide actionable information to users.
ECG measurements can be taken through electrical biosensors in devices often worn on the wrist. A variety of detailed metrics are available thanks to ECG biosensor’s ability to measure Heart Rate Variability (HRV). HRV measures beat-to-beat variations over a period of time—in other words, the heart’s ability to accelerate and decelerate quickly and efficiently to meet the body’s immediate needs. This provides insight into a wide variety of factors that influence an individual’s health and wellness. We’ve identified four of the major, revolutionary insights that can be determined with the power of ECG biosensors: stress, mood, recovery and fatigue.
Stress is a normal part of life—it’s the body’s reaction to any change that requires a response. We experience stresses from our environments, actions, and thoughts, and our bodies react with physical, mental, and emotional responses.
The human body is hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect against threats, much like an alarm system. The physical response includes a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, that increase heart rate, elevate blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal; but when stressors are persistent, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. Long-term stress can disrupt almost all of the body’s processes, including immune system responses, digestion and growth. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of the brain that control mood, motivation and fear.
Stress management is critical to good health. The ability to track stress levels thanks to ECG technology could prove instrumental to helping individuals manage stress related to work, exercise and the demands of life in general. By learning to identify what is stressful, as well as what works to reduce stress, individuals can take the steps necessary to help them live healthier, longer lives.
Mood and mood patterns have a profound effect on an individual’s sense of wellbeing, impacting not only mental health but physical health as well.
Research continues to confirm the power of the mind-body connection, and that positive and negative moods can be detected physiologically. As outlined in a Harvard Health article, mood can affect the cardiovascular system directly by creating a state of emergency readiness, similar to stress, in which stress hormone levels rise and heartbeat speeds up. If an individual is chronically depressed or anxious, the emergency response becomes constant and could make the heart less responsive. A 2007 Norwegian study found that participants with significant depression symptoms had a higher risk of death from most major causes, including heart disease, stroke, respiratory illnesses and more.
ECG biosensors’ ability to track mood help individuals detect the potential source and frequency of both negative and positive moods, empowering them make the right adjustments to ensure better mood and healthier outcomes.
Exercise and other physical work causes changes in the body—such as muscle tissue breakdown—that different systems need to recover from. Recovery involves chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system repair, mental state, and more. It also allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues.
Recovery is not only a critical component of any successful training program, it’s also often the least-planned and most under-utilized way to enhance future performance. Symptoms of over-training often occur from a lack of recovery time, which can include a feeling of general malaise, depression, decreased performance and increased risk of injury, among others.
For athletes and weekend warriors alike, tracking recovery rate from heavy bouts of training or exertion with the help of ECG biosensors can be instrumental to improving the recovery process, enabling individuals to plan training and exercise more effectively and enhance future performance.
Fatigue is characterized by feeling of tiredness, lethargy, or lack of energy that does not go away when you rest. People may feel mentally or physically fatigued, or both.
Fatigue can often be traced to one or more habits or routines—for example, it can be a normal and important response to physical exertion, poor eating habits, boredom, and lack of sleep. In some cases, fatigue is a byproduct of stress, anxiety, grief or depression, or possibly the symptom of an underlying medical problem that requires treatment.
Thanks to ECG biosensors and HRV readings, tracking fatigue can help point to habits that induce fatigue, helping individuals avoid it or ensure better recovery.
From stress, mood and recovery to fatigue, ECG biosensors and Heart Rate Variability have the power to capture and quantify a variety of biofeedback, helping users make more informed lifestyle decisions and helping caretakers offer better treatment to patients. In turn, this presents wearable device manufacturers with an incredible opportunity to harness ECG biosensor technology to create truly revolutionary health and wellness products.
For more insight into the advantages of ECG biosensors and their ability to capture and process HRV data, download the free whitepaper, Wearable Solutions for Improving Heart Health and Wellness.