ECG technology has been used by doctors for years to gather vital information on the health of their patients. In the past, this technology had to be used in controlled environments(e.g. in the Doctor’s office, Clinic or Hospital) in order to obtain the best results, and while nothing will ever replace the advice and information provided by a trained physician, that hasn’t stopped the use of ECG from expanding well beyond the walls of doctor’s offices. This is due, in part, to the rise of wearable devices available today enabled by ECG biosensors. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the different uses of ECG technology, and compare its medical and consumer applications.
ECG Technology in the Medical World
ECG technology in medical applications is generally broken into two categories: ECG for diagnostic purposes, and ECG for monitoring purposes.
When it comes to using ECG technology for diagnostic purposes, multiple channels (usually 8-12 channels) of data are acquired via electrodes that are attached to left/right arms and legs, chest, etc. of a patient. Once collected, this data can provide a doctor with valuable information pertaining to the functioning of the heart and whether or not any abnormalities have been observed. If there are abnormalities, the doctor can usually pin-point the cause, or otherwise order more tests to gain additional insight and suggest appropriate treatment.
ECG technology for monitoring purposes generally uses a single channel connected to a chest strap or left/right arm electrodes. Commonly, this type of ECG technology is used for monitoring heart rate and basic functioning of the heart during surgeries or during hospitalization, iin emergency rooms or while transporting the patient in an ambulance to provide alerts if any abnormal changes are detected in vital signs.
Most medical ECG equipment uses special gel based sensor electrodes and requires a trained technician in order to be correctly place on the body. ECG equipment for medical use generally requires regulatory compliance.
ECG Technology in the Consumer World
In the consumer world, ECG technology is being used for health and wellness applications by being incorporated into wearable and mobile technology. In these cases, a single channel ECG signal is acquired by dry contact metal electrodes touching the skin, usually on the fingers or the wrist. Consumer ECG technology doesn’t require any special training to use, and the data acquired is analyzed by algorithms in order to extract valuable information for the wearer. This information can include heart rate, heart rate variability, stress level, respiration rate, and more. In consumer applications, the data obtained is often combined with mobile apps in order to assist with long-term monitoring and analysis. Additionally, these apps can display information through valuable health and wellness metrics that is easy to read, understand, and interpret.
Different Purposes, Important Results
ECG technology is exceptionally versatile, and whether it’s being used in the medical or the consumer world, the insight it can give on health is absolutely invaluable.
For more information on the use of ECG technology in both the medical and consumer worlds, be sure to download our free whitepaper: Wearable Solutions for Improving Heart Health & Wellness.