Can Wearable Devices Help with Heart Health?

Tech has expanded ways we can check our heart health

A man checks his heart rate using a wearable device after working out.

Tech has expanded ways we can check our heart health

More and more people are using wearable devices to monitor their health with a surge in the use of devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers.

Wearable devices offer a range of features, from tracking activity levels and sleep quality to monitoring vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure.

Many people use them to manage their health and well-being. Others use them to help with early detection and management of medical conditions, such as heart disease.

“A wearable device can track your heart health, like blood pressure and heart rhythm. It helps you detect health issues or monitor chronic conditions,” says Nicholas Olson, MD, a cardiologist at Scripps Clinic Anderson Medical Pavilion in La Jolla.

What are wearable devices for heart health?

Wearable devices use sensors to collect data like heart rate and activity levels. They have easy-to-use screens to show real-time updates, helping users monitor their heart health.

Consumers can purchase wearables, such as an Apple Watch or a Fitbit, at retail stores. However, medical-grade wearables require a doctor’s prescription.

Before buying a wearable device, talk to your doctor to see if it could benefit you. Doctors can evaluate your health needs and figure out how technology can help improve your health and well-being.

“The type of wearable device you should use depends on your health,” Dr. Olson says. “If you have a heart problem, your doctor might recommend using wearable technology to track your heart activity. This can help monitor conditions like heart failure or atrial fibrillation.”

What are benefits of wearable devices for heart health?


Wearable devices help track heart health at home or on the go. They come in various forms, including smartwatches, bands, ear buds, patches and chest straps, and offer users flexibility in how they incorporate them into their daily lives.

Real-time monitoring and feedback

Wearables allow users to stay informed about their heart health status continuously. They offer immediate feedback on metrics, such as heart rate, heart rhythm, blood pressure and activity levels.

“If you have questions or feel something is wrong with the data from your device, speak to your doctor,” Dr. Olson says.

Motivation and accountability

Body-worn devices can serve as motivational tools that encourage users to stay committed to their fitness and heart care goals. These devices can track progress and remind users to stay active.

Types of wearable devices for heart care

Wearable devices cater to various needs in heart health monitoring. Each device has unique features and benefits. If you want to use a wearable device to track your health, pick one that is FDA-cleared.


Smartwatches are popular because they can do many things. They use sensors and tracking technology to monitor heart rate during various activities. They can also detect irregular rhythms and alert about any potential health problems.

Fitness trackers

Activity trackers help people stay active and monitor heart health. They are ideal for monitoring steps, calories, distance and sleep duration.

Heart rate monitors

Heart rate monitors are devices that are specifically designed to track your heart rate in real-time.

These devices are worn on the chest or wrist. They help users monitor their heart rate during exercise or physical activities.

What are the downsides of wearable devices?

Wearable tech has benefits, but also drawbacks. One issue is the accuracy of the data collected by commercial heart devices.

Commercially available heart monitoring devices can be helpful, but they are not a substitute for highly accurate medical devices used in clinical settings.

A recent study found notable discrepancies in heart rate measurements obtained from commercial wearable devices, especially during exercise and among people with atrial fibrillation. Privacy and data security are also concerns for many people.

In addition, over-reliance on commercial devices can foster a false sense of security, leading some users to forgo seeking medical assistance when necessary.

“While wearable devices offer benefits, it’s crucial to remember their limitations. It’s important to use these devices as tools to help regular doctor care, not replace it,” Dr. Olson says.

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