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MONDAY, April 10, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Wrist-worn activity trackers such as Fitbit don’t reliably assess heart rate, a new study finds.

While the devices may have some legitimate benefits, they shouldn’t be used for medical purposes, researchers suggest.

Evaluating four wearable activity trackers from Fitbit, Basis and Mio, the investigators compared results to those from an electrocardiograph (EKG). The researchers found results varied among the different models, and were much less accurate during exercise than at rest.

“These devices are probably good enough to inform consumers of general trends in their heart rate — high or low — [but] it’s important to have more accurate information when physicians are relying on this data to make decisions on medications or other tests and treatments,” said Dr. Mitesh Patel.

Patel is an assistant professor of medicine and health care management at the University of Pennsylvania. He wasn’t involved in the study.

However, the study’s lead author cautions against making too much of the discrepancies.

“At any moment, the tracker could be off by a fair bit. But at most moments, it won’t be,” said Lisa Cadmus-Bertram, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

“The heart-rate feature performed better at rest,” she said. “They’re not as precise during exercise.”

A 2014 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 20 percent of American adults owned a wearable activity tracker.

For the new study, 40 healthy adults, aged 30 to 65, were recruited to test the Fitbit Surge, Fitbit Charge, Basis Peak and Mio Fuse.

Generally, when compared with the EKG results, the activity trackers were near the correct mark, Cadmus-Bertram said. But occasionally, their estimates of heart rate could swing too high or too low.

At rest, the Fitbit Surge was most accurate; Basis Peak was least accurate, the study authors said.

During exercise on a treadmill at 65 percent of maximum heart rate –…



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