Monitoring ECG with smartwatches is becoming increasingly common. Apple, Fitbit and a number of other brands have come out with solutions. What these have in common is that they are on-demand, work from the wrist and typically capture a reading lasting around 30 seconds. Wellue Heart Health Monitor is something much more sophisticated.
This is the type of device that was previously only available in hospital settings. It offers 24 hour monitoring of ECG and provides analysis of up to 14 different kinds of abnormal heart events. The device is non-invasive and completely safe to use.
The procedure is simple and consists of sticking two electrodes onto the skin on your chest. You can do this with a chest strap or patches.
In private hospital settings, a single session with a 24-hour ECG monitor can set you back upwards of between $150 and $200. Wellue’s device comes with a one-off $299 price-tag. There are no subscription fees or other expenses and more than one person can use it. You can check it out on getwellue.com (use coupon GW10 for a 10% discount).
The company sells a range of other products. Our review of its O2Ring can be found on this link. That one is primarily designed for people who need to track their oxygen levels in detail, especially those who have or suspect they have sleep apnea or another medical problem. Wellue even sells a couple of wireless portable ultrasound devices allowing you to image a full human body!
Over the past few weeks I’ve tested the Heart Health Monitor in a number of different use scenarios and with different people. Here’s what I made of it.
Wellue Heart Health Monitor review: Design & hardware
- Single-lead ECG monitor
- Looks and feels like a standard heart chest strap
- Records for up to 24 hours
- Three day battery life on a single charge
Look & feel
In the box, the Heart Health Monitor comes with the main unit, a power/data cable for charging and uploading data, a little USB drive with the analysis software, a pack of disposable electrode patches and a chest strap. As far as the USB drive, you don’t really need it. It contains the PC version of the software, but you can also download this from Wellue’s website along with the Mac equivalent. Also, downloading directly from the website will ensure you have the latest version so is better.
The EKG monitor looks well made. it has a rubbery feel to it and the middle part bends. This is so that it contours better against your chest. The size of the main unit is 100 x 23 x 8.3mm and it is extremely lightweight (1.23 oz with the battery). Once positioned on your chest, you really don’t feel like you are wearing it. If you’re a runner and have worn a heart rate chest strap – this is exactly the same.
There is no display or “On” button. When you attach the main unit to the electrodes it will automatically start recording and end when you remove it. Rather annoyingly, there is also no “Off” switch. So it is a bit like a television set that is on standby – a little LED light will flash every few seconds even when the device is not use. Which to me seems like a waste of battery life. Surely it would not have been that difficult adding a little “Off” button.
Moving quickly on to water resistance which comes in at a rating of IP22. Meaning, the Heart Health Monitor is “protected against insertion of fingers” and can withstand “vertically or nearly vertically dripping water”. So it is not water-proof.
Not surprising as I cannot really see a scenario when you would need to wear it in water. This is a general health monitor, not a sports tracking device. Having said that, you can wear it while exercising.
All in all, the design gets a thumbs up from me. The monitor is comfortable to wear, feels quality made and is small enough to carry around with you with ease. Plus there’s no power-hungry display.
The device is much more convenient that a hospital ECG Holter monitor which is bulky, with wires and 5-7 electrodes that need to be attached to the chest. My only wish would be for a way to entirely switch the thing off.
Under the hood
Wellue Heart Health Monitor is a single lead ECG reader. It can record up to 360,000 ECG/EKG signals in a day, intelligently identifying a bunch of different heart arrhythmia risks. According to the company’s website, its analysis system is based on 300,000 patients and 50 million learning data points.
As far as memory, you can store 10 individual ECG sessions on it or 30 hours of data. The maximum session you can record is 24 hours. To make space, once the memory is full it will start overwriting the old data. But because you are meant to use PC or Mac software, your historical data sits on your computer’s hard disk. Which makes your session logs limitless.
Fully charged, the Heart Health Monitor can keep going for 72 hours. Wellue says you can refuel it up 300 times before performance will start to become degraded. A battery replacement possibility would be a plus. Having said that, with normal use the Heart Health Monitor should be good for a few years before it starts to see battery degradation.
To refuel simply plug one end of the proprietary cable into the monitor and the other end into any standard USB outlet. When the LED light turns from reddish to green, you’ll know the battery is on max capacity. This does not take long.
- Size (main unit): 100 x 23 x 8.3mm
- Weight < 1.23 oz (with battery)
- ECG lead type: Single-lead ECG
- Input impendence: ≥10MΩ, 10Hz
- Frequency response: 0/67 – 40 Hz
- Linearity and dynamic range: 10mV (peak-to-valley)
- Gain error: Maximum error ±10%
- Type of battery: rechargeable lithium battery
- Battery running time: 72 hours (fully charged)
- Charging time (2 horus (to 90% power)
- Water-resistance: IP22
- Storage: 10 individual ECG sessions on it or 30 hours of data
Wellue Heart Health Monitor review: Functionality
- Use with the chest strap or stick-on patches
- Picks up on 14 different ECG abnormalities
- No Bluetooth or WiFi is required
- Excellent PC and Mac software
- Smartphone app of limited use
Setup and first use
A highlight of this product for me is the ease of use. Simply tighten the strap around your chest and attach the main unit to the pins – the end with the letter R needs to go on the right side. A little vibration along with the blinking green light will let you know that it has started recording. Prior to that you’ll want to wet the plastic strip on the inside of the strap a little. This is to ensure a good signal is captured right from the outset.
The other option is to use the patches provided to secure the device to your chest. Just ensure that they are positioned at a 45 degree angle. These are single use, disposable patches and your purchase gets you 10 in a box. You also have the option of obtaining a box of additional patches – a pack of 60 costs $29.
I tried both ways of wearing it and must say that I prefer the chest strap. It is easier to put on and take off. Once it is attached to the chest, you don’t feel anything anymore and it doesn’t bother at all.
And while it might not feel as secure while you are sleeping, in the end I found it captured uninterrupted sessions most of the time. With typical tossing and turning there’s the potential to bump the main unit. This starts a new session each time. I found that while this typically did not happen to me with the chest strap option, it did at times with the patches. Plus, when you remove the stickers they leave a red mark on your skin and it takes about a day before the rash disappears.
You’ll be happy to know that nothing is transmitted to the outside world, so no Bluetooth or WiFi is required. And the device will keep recording your signal continuously until you remove it.
Another option, which I didn’t really find all that useful, is to rest your fingers on the electrodes. This is meant for a quick check and works with the smartphone app. But the signal quality is not as good so I found that to be of limited use.
Smartphone app shows a live feed of ECG & heart rate
The Heart Health Monitor comes with computer and smartphone software to help you screen for heart problems. Starting off with the weaker part of the system – the iOS and Android smartphone app.
Like some other Wellue products, you are meant to use the ViHealth app. Pair your Heart Health Monitor to the smartphone, attach it to your chest and it will automatically start to stream data to the smartphone display.
Below the real-time data of your heart rate and electrocardiogram session curve you’ll see a little “Record ECG” button. This allows you to capture and save details of your session. The max recording time is 30 minutes.
You also have the option of going into a history log and reviewing any individual recordings. Plus you can export the ECG readings in PDF format. But this is where the functionality ends. No analysis is provided so you are left on your own to draw conclusions.
The PC, MAC software makes this product what it is
The smartphone app can be useful for a quick checkup but is of limited use as it lacks the deep AI analysis of the PC and Mac software. Which is the part of the system which makes this product what it is. After all, ECG recordings without analysis are of limited use.
The way this works is that you download and install the software on your computer. Then each time you connect the Heart Health Monitor to your computer (via the USB power cable), you’ll have the option to download recently captured ECG data. This is submitted to the cloud for analysis and 20-30 minutes later a report will be ready with your results. Motion artifacts are filtered out in the analysis.
When you think about it, in a full day the device captures hundreds of thousands of data points which would be impossible to evaluate as a whole manually. So the AI part is an absolute necessity.
As mentioned, the device and AI ECG algorithm can pick up on many different events. This includes Sinus Rhythm, Ectopic Rhythm, Sinus Tachycardia, Sinus Bradycardia, PAC (Premature Supraventricular Contraction), PVC (Premature Ventricular Contraction), Couplet of PAC, Couplet of PVC, PAC Bigeminy, PVC Bigeminy, PAC Trigeminy, PVC Trigeminy, Supraventricular Tachycardia, Ventricular Tachycardia, Atrial Flutter, Atrial Fibrillation and heart rate variability (HRV).
The report is in an easy to digest format. It flags up irregularities in the ECG in a summary format along with conclusions. You can jump to the exact spot in the ECG where a disordered heartbeat occurred via the navigation panel on the left.
The software also lists hourly data in table format quantifying when and where something was found along with the number of events. Of course, you also get the actual ECG waveform. All of this can be exported in PDF format and shared with the doctor or loved ones.
There really is lots of info to sink your teeth into. However, something on my wish-list would be more detailed explanations. We are not all qualified doctors so you end up Googling to understand some of the terms. But don’t be surprised if you do find some sort of abnormality. A prolonged test is bound to pick up on at least something minor. That’s normal.
Routine ECG/EKG checkups at your doctors typically take a few minutes. This can make it difficult to pick up on heart problems. After all, ECG events can be of sporadic and transient in nature. Hence the benefit of longer readings and the usefulness of this device.
Quality of data
As far as the quality of data, I can vouch that the heart rate information is accurate and that the device delivers stable quality of the recordings. The accuracy of ECG and analysis by AI, on other hand, you have to trust. There’s no way for me to perfectly assess this accuracy.
In my case I tried it out in various use scenarios. For the most part it found nothing wrong, only picking up on minor issues. Which is what I’d expect. Here’s an example of my results from a 9 hour monitoring session.
This is the detailed five page report. Click on the thumb to open.
I also lent the device to a person with a known ECG abnormality – Afib, taking medication for the condition. And during a five and a half hour recording session, the Heart Health Monitor identified, logged and charted a total of 632 instances of Afib. That’s how detailed the data gets!
Here’s the full report.
Also worth a mention are studies on Wellue’s website illustrating the suitability of using a single-lead ECG recorder for detecting cardiac arrhythmias in patients referred for dynamic ECG monitoring. You can read more on this link.
Wellue Heart Health Monitor review: The bottom line, is it worth it?
Wellue Heart Health Monitor is a clever little device that provides similar information to a traditional Holter Monitor. But it is easier to use and less costly. It allows you to do tests at your convenience without having to schedule doctor appointments. A way to conduct a preliminary analysis of arrhythmia and other heart abnormalities from the comfort of your home.
The device itself is very lightweight and offers a couple of ways of attaching to your chest. Once positioned, you really don’t feel like you are wearing it.
A highlight of this product is the PC and Mac software. The AI ECG analysis provides a wealth of info on your heart health including cardiac activity (heart rate, rhythm disturbances, HRV parameters), along with details of all individual irregularities. The signal form of a single-channel ECG is recorded in full. Of course, the accuracy is never going to be as high as a clinical-grade device but suffices for the purpose. Wellue also sells a 12-Lead Holter Monitor (use coupon GW10 for a 10% discount), which has medical-grade accuracy and works with the AI Analysis.
And while the PC and Mac software is quite good, the smartphone app is pretty barebones. Perhaps something that will be upgraded with future software updates.
Is Wellue Heart Health Monitor really something a person with no known heart issues needs? Perhaps not. But I would recommend it to those that have pre-existing conditions or those that want an additional way to keep tabs on their family’s health.
Finally, it is worth pointing out that this is not a medical device and is not meant to replace clinical Holter monitoring. Look at it as a convenient way to record your heart rhythm for prolonged periods and identify potential conditions – any time you feel the need to.
Wellue Heart Health Monitor typically retails for $299 on getwellue.com (use coupon GW10 for a 10% discount).
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