Image source: Garmin

Garmin watches accurate in measuring HRV, new study shows

A recent study published in the European Heart Journal – Digital Health has demonstrated that the Garmin Vivoactive 4 exhibits excellent accuracy in measuring heart rate variability (HRV) compared to the traditional electrocardiogram (ECG) method. The research, which focused on individuals with cardiovascular disease, suggests that these smartwatches offer a convenient alternative for monitoring heart health.

The study involved participants with a history of heart issues, including 104 survivors of acute ST-elevation myocardial infarction, 129 patients after ischemic stroke, and 30 controls. All subjects wore the Garmin Vivoactive 4 smartwatch and were connected to an ECG machine for 30 minutes. Researchers then compared the HRV readings from the photoplethysmogram (PPG) signal of the Garmin smartwatch with the gold-standard high-resolution method.

High-level of agreement

Results demonstrated a high level of agreement between the smartwatch and the ECG for measuring average heart rate and other specific HRV markers. This finding indicates that the Garmin Vivoactive 4 smartwatch can therefore serve as a practical and accurate tool for monitoring heart health in patients with cardiovascular disease.

More specifically, the study reported very high concordance between the smartwatch-derived and ECG-based HRV markers for mean heart rate, standard deviation of the averages of normal-to-normal (NN) intervals in all 5-minute segments (SDANN), and very low-frequency power (VLF power).

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However, the researchers also observed that detrended fluctuation analysis (DF-α1) and square mean root of the sum of squares of adjacent NN-interval differences (rMSSD) showed only moderate concordance. Consequently, users should exercise caution when relying on the smartwatch for these particular measurements.

Nevertheless, this study instills confidence in the accuracy of Garmin HRV measurements, especially considering that the Vivoactive 4 used in the research is already a few years old. Since the release of the Vivoactive 4, Garmin has introduced a range of newer devices with upgraded technology, which may offer even better accuracy and features for HRV measurement.

Provides confidence in accuracy of Garmin HRV data

Garmin smartwatches not only measure raw HRV data but also utilise this information to provide insights into stress levels and recovery statistics. By analyzing HRV data, these devices can help users better understand their physical and mental stress, allowing them to make more informed decisions about their daily activities and overall well-being.

Moreover, Garmin’s more recent devices have incorporated recovery metrics, which are crucial for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. By monitoring HRV data, the smartwatches can estimate the time required for an individual to recover from a workout or strenuous activity. This enables users to optimize their training schedules, reduce the risk of injury, and in turn improve performance.

The study’s findings on the accuracy of HRV measurements, combined with the advancements in technology since the Vivoactive 4, is good news for Garmin owners. Particularly as this is third-party research, not funded or outsourced by Garmin. Reliability of HRV data churned out by Garmin watches is important for individuals seeking to make informed decisions about their health, well-being, and fitness goals.

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Ivan Jovin

Ivan has been a tech journalist for over 7 years now, covering all kinds of technology issues. He is the guy who gets to dive deep into the latest wearable tech news.

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