Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What is a Heart Monitor?

Known as a cardiac monitor, a heart monitor is a piece of electronic equipment that can be used to track or observe heart functions continuously. It allows people to place a numerical value on their healthiness based on their heart rate and have a target heart rate to work for. The more complex versions of the heart monitor allow physicians to see any signs of deterioration or improvement and make the necessary adjustments immediately.

Types of Heart Monitors

Today, heart monitors are produced by the millions and designed to cater specific types of individuals. Some heart monitors are primarily designed for weight loss programs while others are meant for the use of athletes or fitness programs. Some are wireless or come as a built-in feature of exercise equipment like a treadmill or an exercise bike. It can be strapped to your wrist or of considerable size. It may or may not emit any electromagnetic waves, depending on its purpose. A fetal heart monitor, for instance, must not produce any waves at all as this may affect the health of the baby.

Factors on Selecting the Best Heart Monitor for You

ECG-Accurate Monitors with Chest Straps – Heart monitors that come with chest straps are more often not the most accurate of heart monitors. The chest strap is strapped around your chest, a few centimeters below your breast. It contains a device that’s able to detect electrical activity of your heart and transmit it to the brain of the machine – just like an ECG. The results are shown on the display monitor, which most of the times is attached to your wrist like a watch. Others however prefer results to be transmitted through audio messages via earphones.

Upon choosing heart monitors with chest straps, you need to remember to keep the strap constantly connected to your body lest you want the heart monitor to produce inaccurate readings.

Lastly, the only alternative against buying heart monitors with chest straps are the ones that rely on pulses on your fingertips. These however do not provide readings as accurate as those with chest straps.

Heart Monitor Features – Basic and lower end models tend to display only your heart rate and maybe the elapsed exercise time as well. This of course does not provide sufficient information if you want to know exactly how much you need to improve before you can be qualified as a completely healthy individual. Higher end models will naturally offer a wider range of features – for a price. Examples of such features are – but not limited to – heart rate zone alarms, timers and number of calories burned. It may also allow users to set pre-programmed workouts along with a targeted heart rate.

Ease of Use – Lastly, you must purchase a heart rate monitor that you will have no problems of using. What good would a high end heart monitor do if it takes you an hour to operate it? Are the numbers and words appearing in the heart rate monitor readable? Can it be used in no-light situations? Are buttons well-labeled and ergonomically positioned?

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