Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

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jwblue
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Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by jwblue » Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:46 pm

The only thing important is the heart rate monitor.

I do not care how accurate any of the other functions are.

The Fitbit Alta HR has good reviews.

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Hayden
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Hayden » Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:55 pm

I only know my personal experience. Fitbit didn't work for me; Samsung didn't work for me; Garmin works great. Maybe it's me...

PFInterest
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by PFInterest » Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:56 pm

i think they all have problems. they are def not meant as medical devices. though there are stories of ppl finding out they had arrhythmias.

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jwblue
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by jwblue » Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:58 pm

Hayden wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:55 pm
I only know my personal experience. Fitbit didn't work for me; Samsung didn't work for me; Garmin works great. Maybe it's me...
Which Garmin?

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dm200
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by dm200 » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:01 pm

When I got started (the most recent time), I got a Polar HRM

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Veiled
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Veiled » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:24 pm

dm200 wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:01 pm
When I got started (the most recent time), I got a Polar HRM
+1 Polar, but it's more expensive. I think the real answer depends on where you want to wear it--chest monitors are cheaper and as accurate as wrist ones, but obviously less convenient. Pulse oximeters are probably the most accurate because they have access to capillaries in your nail bed, but they're also inconvenient. (Cant' swim/run/horseback ride/whatever really easily with one of those on.)
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Toons
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Toons » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:28 pm

My Samsung phone does an excellent job of measuring heart rate
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slowbutsteady
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by slowbutsteady » Sun Nov 05, 2017 5:39 pm

I use Garmin chest strap + Garmin Forerunner 225. Accuracy is all I care about as well...and for running only. Works great.
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Braumeister
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Braumeister » Sun Nov 05, 2017 5:53 pm

Depends on what kind of monitor you want.

Chest strap monitors are regarded as 99% accurate, but pretty cumbersome to use.

Wrist strap monitors (since you mentioned Fitbit) are less accurate, but the most accurate one available is the Apple Watch, which is 91% accurate. The others go from around 88% on down.

tigermilk
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by tigermilk » Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:26 pm

jwblue wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:46 pm
The only thing important is the heart rate monitor.

I do not care how accurate any of the other functions are.

The Fitbit Alta HR has good reviews.
Fingers on the wrist and a clock.

Cavalier91
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Cavalier91 » Sun Nov 05, 2017 8:12 pm

I have used ALOT of heart rate monitors. If your looking for a chest strap, polar is the best no question. The new straps have multiple chest electrodes on each side which makes it more accurate and less prone to dropouts and spikes.

Pro tip: if you have another heart rate monitor that clips onto the strap (garmin/wahoo) you can buy a separate polar strap and attach the garmin or wahoo monitor to the strap—you don’t need to buy a whole new monitor. This is what I do. I have a garmin watch and a wahoo ticker heart rate monitor connected to a polar strap. Works flawlessly.

As for wrist heart rate, I use a garmin watch that has an optical sensor. It is ok, but as others have said it is not very accurate or reliable—especially during exercise when you are moving a lot. Wrist heart rate has come along way, but unfortuantly it is still nowhere near as accurate as chest straps.

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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by dodgy55 » Sun Nov 05, 2017 8:35 pm

After a heart attack back in 2015 I researched the heart rate monitors. Like most folks, accuracy was my primary goal. Ended up buying a Polar with chest strap. The wrist bands seemed too prone to error during quick exercise routines. Chest strap is probably too inconvenient for every day wear, but since I only use it when I play tennis or other cardio exercise it works for me.
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jhfenton
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by jhfenton » Sun Nov 05, 2017 8:47 pm

I've used a few generations of Garmin HR straps and GPS watches, and they were all accurate enough. They have gotten a bit better over time.

I currently have an Apple Watch Series 2 and a Polar H7 bluetooth strap. I get reasonably accurate HR data from the Watch by itself. If I manually ask it to start recording HR data, the first reading will often be a false high (70-80) that will quickly settle to an accurate reading in the 50's. I don't know why it does that, and I don't get random spikes during passive monitoring. I wear the Watch overnight, and I get a fairly consistent HR track dipping in the high 40's without too much noise. (I charge my Watch a few minutes here and there during the day sitting at my desk so that I can sleep with it. I put it in airplane mode and theater mode overnight, and it barely uses any battery.)

During runs, the Watch by itself does OK, but it sometimes gives false readings starting out (probably picking up my cadence) and then settles down. There also seems to be a bit of lag in picking up HR changes compared to straps. But the Watch does accurately capture the overall HR profile during a run. But I still use the Polar H7 strap with my Watch for most of my runs and all of my workouts. It provides more accurate, consistent, and responsive data during workouts.

But the Watch is always there, while the strap is not. I think they make a good team.

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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Rob5TCP » Sun Nov 05, 2017 8:50 pm

I used the FitBit Charge 2 and at the same time used the Polar - the Polar was more accurate no matter what I did.
The chest strap is much better than the wrist.

I used my Lifecycle and saw which was more accurate. When I was just sitting all three pretty much agreed (plus or minus 1 or 2 beats). Once I began exercising intensely; the Polar and the Lifecycle were within 1-2 beats difference; whereas the Fitbit was 10 to up to 20 beats off.

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Hayden
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Hayden » Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:13 pm

jwblue wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:58 pm
Hayden wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:55 pm
I only know my personal experience. Fitbit didn't work for me; Samsung didn't work for me; Garmin works great. Maybe it's me...
Which Garmin?
I have the forerunner 35

themesrob
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by themesrob » Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:16 pm

for me, the Charge HR2 has been very accurate. Matches up precisely with any monitors attached to exercise equipment, and within 2-3 beats the last time I was at the doctor's office. YMMV

lightheir
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by lightheir » Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:34 pm

OP - Believe it or not, ALL of them are accurate but ONLY when they are well locked on to the HR signal.

When they are misplaced, jostling around, or loose, they lose data, and thus become 'inaccurate'. Pretty much none of the sensors will misread the HR if they have an excellent 'locked-on' signal.

Thus, it depends heavily what your use situation is.

If you are using it for resting HR or sedentary-type readings, the optical HRMs in Apple, Garmins, Fitbits, etc., will be fine - you can sit still and make sure it locks on, and you'll get a solid reading pretty easily.

The challenge is when you start running or moving a lot. Those wrist-based optical sensors start to lose contact and jostle around enough to lose a lot of data and give you lots of misreadings. The chest straps actually work extremely well for about a year of heavy use, but those then die (not sure why, but probably corrosion - I've gone through 6+ with heavy use, none last over a year. It's not just me - hundreds of folks have complained about this on running, triathlon, etc forums over years.)

The one I use for activity (bike/run) is the one DCRainmaker recommends - the Scosche Rhythm+. Yes, it's an optical sensor, but the key difference between it and the watches is that the Rhythm+ has a soft strap so you bind it very tightly to your biceps or forearm. I'd say it's 95% as reliable as a brand-new chest strap (the NEW chest strap captures even better), but with the advantage that if you're a heavy user, it doesn't die after a year of heavy use.

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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Perkunas » Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:37 pm

If you want an accurate HR monitor, look for a chest-strap and avoid the wrist monitors. At this point, anything from Suunto, Garmin and Polar will function as well as any normal person needs them to.

clutchied
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by clutchied » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:05 pm

Perkunas wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:37 pm
If you want an accurate HR monitor, look for a chest-strap and avoid the wrist monitors. At this point, anything from Suunto, Garmin and Polar will function as well as any normal person needs them to.
I was going to make the same point. Wrist based are ok, but you have to go chest strap if you want a very accurate reading. The opticals are getting there though.

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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by lightheir » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:14 pm

clutchied wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:05 pm
Perkunas wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:37 pm
If you want an accurate HR monitor, look for a chest-strap and avoid the wrist monitors. At this point, anything from Suunto, Garmin and Polar will function as well as any normal person needs them to.
I was going to make the same point. Wrist based are ok, but you have to go chest strap if you want a very accurate reading. The opticals are getting there though.
The opticals are there - the problem isn't the optical sensor, it's the excessive motion of the sensor on skin when you put the sensor on a watchband while you run.

As mentioned, the Scosche Rhythm+ solves this problem. It uses the same optical sensors as all the other players, but since it's got a soft adjustable band, you can cinch it down super tight on your lower biceps or forearm (they recommend this) and it reads 95% as well as an electrical HRM.

FOr optical to work, there has to be a very tight squeeze between the sensor and your skin, which is very hard to do with a normal watchband.

thangngo
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by thangngo » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:23 pm

tigermilk wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:26 pm
jwblue wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:46 pm
The only thing important is the heart rate monitor.

I do not care how accurate any of the other functions are.

The Fitbit Alta HR has good reviews.
Fingers on the wrist and a clock.
^ this. Count how many heart rate for 10 seconds, then times 6.

I also use Apple watch to constantly keep track of heart rate during the day and during workouts.

clutchied
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by clutchied » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:33 am

lightheir wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:14 pm
clutchied wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:05 pm
Perkunas wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:37 pm
If you want an accurate HR monitor, look for a chest-strap and avoid the wrist monitors. At this point, anything from Suunto, Garmin and Polar will function as well as any normal person needs them to.
I was going to make the same point. Wrist based are ok, but you have to go chest strap if you want a very accurate reading. The opticals are getting there though.
The opticals are there - the problem isn't the optical sensor, it's the excessive motion of the sensor on skin when you put the sensor on a watchband while you run.

As mentioned, the Scosche Rhythm+ solves this problem. It uses the same optical sensors as all the other players, but since it's got a soft adjustable band, you can cinch it down super tight on your lower biceps or forearm (they recommend this) and it reads 95% as well as an electrical HRM.

FOr optical to work, there has to be a very tight squeeze between the sensor and your skin, which is very hard to do with a normal watchband.
I have the scosche! It's pretty great and it is pretty good.

I think we may be exaggerating this accuracy thing...

Copernicus
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Copernicus » Mon May 07, 2018 7:18 pm

lightheir wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:14 pm
clutchied wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:05 pm
Perkunas wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:37 pm
If you want an accurate HR monitor, look for a chest-strap and avoid the wrist monitors. At this point, anything from Suunto, Garmin and Polar will function as well as any normal person needs them to.
I was going to make the same point. Wrist based are ok, but you have to go chest strap if you want a very accurate reading. The opticals are getting there though.
The opticals are there - the problem isn't the optical sensor, it's the excessive motion of the sensor on skin when you put the sensor on a watchband while you run.

As mentioned, the Scosche Rhythm+ solves this problem. It uses the same optical sensors as all the other players, but since it's got a soft adjustable band, you can cinch it down super tight on your lower biceps or forearm (they recommend this) and it reads 95% as well as an electrical HRM.

FOr optical to work, there has to be a very tight squeeze between the sensor and your skin, which is very hard to do with a normal watchband.
Does Scorsche Rhythm+ allow download and printing of HR data to show to cardiologist? My brand new Fitbit Alta HR does not!! (I suppose the band comfortable enough to put on at night as well?)

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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by kjvmartin » Mon May 07, 2018 10:08 pm

I had some testing on my heart recently. I was wearing an Apple Watch Series 3 and my reading was within 0-2 BPM of the medical equipment at all times.

The doctor said it's very accurate provided you wear it at the appropriate tightness.

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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by WildBill » Mon May 07, 2018 10:57 pm

Howdy

Have a look at the Mio Slice. I bought one about 3 months ago based on reviews and the attractive price. It is not perfect, but it does what I want -track and record heart rate accurately - and I am quite happy with it. It does the other stuff ok also, step count, mileage, calories burned, etc.

I have compared it several times with my Polar chest monitor and it is plus or minus 1 beat per minute vs the Polar. Good enough for me. I was happy to get rid of the annoying chest monitor.

Mio has some interesting apps associated with the monitor, including a metric called PAI which is a weekly cumulative total fitness metric. I have found those useful also, and actually quite motivating.

Interested to see how reliable it is longer term. I have used it daily for 3 months without any issues. I usually got about 10-12 months out of a chest monitor before it started acting up. We’ll see.

Happy trails

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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by XtremeSki2001 » Tue May 08, 2018 2:57 pm

I use the Polar H7 heat rate monitor, but have also heard the Garmin monitors are very accurate. All are chest straps.
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jazman12
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by jazman12 » Tue May 08, 2018 3:09 pm

Polar series are the most reliable
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Nowizard
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Nowizard » Tue May 08, 2018 3:35 pm

On doctor's advice, I am checking pulse regularly now. He recommended the Omron, cuff BP machine, saying it is the best for BP and pulse. You may not care about the BP, but it is less expensive at about $60 and works well unless you are wanting to measure pulse while working out.

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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Freefun » Tue May 08, 2018 4:55 pm

I've been using Wahoo Tickr chest strap for years. Accuracy is great and they last a long time.

Edit: I've used polar and others - I don't recall actually having a BAD chest strap monitor. I've stuck with Wahoo because they've lasted the longest in my workouts.
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by inbox788 » Tue May 08, 2018 7:58 pm

jazman12 wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 3:09 pm
Polar series are the most reliable
Yeah, but are they accurate or precise? And don't ask me about validity. I failed when it came to these distinctions.

https://www.matrix.edu.au/validity-reli ... -accuracy/

Suitability standard may also be at play. The most accurate under sterile conditions may not be the best choice depending on the activity (e.g. running, biking, swimming, etc.).

FWIW, I've been satisfied with the Apple Watch data, but I have not tried to determine it's accuracy. It's a version 1 and I haven't heard any changes in version 2 or 3 of the watch, so if that's the main function, a new or used version 1 can be attained at a big discount. The battery doesn't last me all day. Never did, but seems to be a bit shorter these days.

Tribonian
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Tribonian » Wed May 09, 2018 1:45 pm

My Garmin Fenix 3 is spotty but I hear the 5 is much better and can record during swimming, something chest straps cannot handle.

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Rob5TCP
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Rob5TCP » Wed May 09, 2018 9:14 pm

Like several posts earlier; I used my Fitbit Charge 2 and my Polar HRM (with chest strap)
on my lifecycle. The Polar was close to the number of beats on the Lifecycle.
AS soon as things turned intense, the Fitbit was off quite a bit (at least 10%).
I used the Fitbit when doing slow walks; anything intense - I use the Polar.

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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Freefun » Wed May 09, 2018 11:38 pm

I find chest HRM more responsive than wrist based devices. Also have Apple Watch series 3 and while it seems accurate it does lag my chest HRM. Happy to use the watch for most things. My chest HRM is use for high intensity workouts but really it's more about the tracking apps that I use.
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Mr.BB » Thu May 10, 2018 6:17 am

Polar is the most accurate (they have been around since the 1980's). It is the chest strap that makes it so accurate. The new wrist /watch monitors uses light sensing for blood flow in your wrist and algorithms to calculate your heart rate. Straps take the information directly from your heart beating.
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by eugenem » Thu May 10, 2018 6:27 am

Currently wearing a Garmin Forerunner 935 coupled to an older style Garmin HRM strap. The Forerunner 935 has an optical heart rate sensor that works 80% of the time. Like others have noted, it's slow to respond to interval type activities (for example: dramatic pace changes; uphill runs) and can underestimate heart rate during weightlifting type activities.

The heart rate strap tends to be more accurate, but can be temperamental in the winter. It's sensitive to dry air and static electricity can cause it to read very high. Easy runs will read 30+ bpm higher and then after 10 minutes or so, it will drop to the expected reading. I have resorted to a combination of wetting the strap with water, plus heart rate electrode gel to get more accurate data.

Polar has a good write up of optical heart rate here -
https://www.polar.com/blog/optical-hear ... ing-polar/

And for the bogleheads equivalent of fitness gadgets, I encourage folks to check out DCRainmaker's website -
https://www.dcrainmaker.com/tag/heart-rate

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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Blues » Thu May 10, 2018 8:01 am

I use a $20 Garmin chest strap I purchased on Amazon and it's been flawless....but I only use it in concert with my Concept2 Erg (rower).

I find it quite comfortable to wear during my conditioning workouts, and it stays in place. I don't use it for lifting weights or other activities.
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu May 10, 2018 8:37 am

Having designed a heart rate monitor (35 years ago, while in college), assuming the device is picking up signals properly (which is actually not that difficult), the question is "what heart rate are you looking for?". The time between beats is easy and nearly instantaneous to put out as a beats per minute number in 4 digit accuracy (or greater). Do you want to know that you're at 65.3829 bpm? Probably not. Although, it's quite easy to get that accuracy. Are you interested in an update in bpm per every beat? I don't know the answer to that. That's also very easy to do. What do present devices do? Do they average over some number of beats? Is the number adjustable by the user? Again, all of this is very easy to implement, but I'm not up on what is used these days.
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Re: Which heart rate monitor is the most accurate?

Post by kenoryan » Fri May 11, 2018 6:33 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 8:37 am
Having designed a heart rate monitor (35 years ago, while in college), assuming the device is picking up signals properly (which is actually not that difficult), the question is "what heart rate are you looking for?". The time between beats is easy and nearly instantaneous to put out as a beats per minute number in 4 digit accuracy (or greater). Do you want to know that you're at 65.3829 bpm? Probably not. Although, it's quite easy to get that accuracy. Are you interested in an update in bpm per every beat? I don't know the answer to that. That's also very easy to do. What do present devices do? Do they average over some number of beats? Is the number adjustable by the user? Again, all of this is very easy to implement, but I'm not up on what is used these days.

Jack, the only measured variable is the time between beats. The rest is all derived from that. If the measured variable is faulty, then all the derived data is faulty too. Averaging 5-10 beats after deleting the outliers is probably what most devices use to get a heart rate, or pulse rate, to be more specific.

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