Taking your heart rate is something you should do regularly to monitor the health of your heart. Heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute (your pulse), which fluctuates with activity and also from person-to-person.
Monitoring your heart rate on a frequent basis will help you determine what "normal" activity is for your heart, and how it responds to stress or increased physical activity. Finding a pulse is easy for some, while for others, it can be a struggle to locate or they lose count during the measurement.
Believe it or not - there's an App for that!
Apps like Instant Heart Rate and What's My Heart Rate use the camera on your smartphone to detect the pulse in your fingertip, a similar technique as used in pulse oximeters. With every beat of your heart, these apps beep and chart your pulse in real-time. The data can be shared with registered users (for example, a physician or caregiver), posted via social media or stored for future reference.
Taking Your Pulse is Crucial During a Cardiac Emergency
Lee McGreger from Waukee, Iowa knows firsthand how convenient the free Instant Heart Rate app can be in an emergency situation. Following a cardiac diagnosis by his physician, Lee was urged to be aware of his heart rate, so he and his family members downloaded the app onto their phones.
While out to dinner one evening with his family, Lee started to experience similar symptoms to what had sent him to the ER in the first place: an accelerated heart rate, difficulty breathing and light-headedness. Scared that another cardiac episode was coming on, Lee's family did their best to keep him calm and reached for a phone to take his pulse with the Instant Heart Rate app. Upon learning that his heart rate was within normal range, he incorporated breathing techniques to calm down and regain control.
In this case, Lee was able to monitor his heart without making an unnecessary trip to the ER. In a different situation, an app could alert a person that their heart rate is dangerously high, prompting them to call 911 or visit the ER.
There are many wellness-related apps available for smartphones. Monitoring your heart rate regularly is one way you can be proactive about your heart health, as well as understanding how your body reacts to stresses and conditions. As we age, changes in the rate and regularity of our pulse can change and might signify a heart condition or illness. Not only will an app come in handy for anyone with a condition, but they're also a wonderful tool for athletes or during exercise.