How Do Heart Rate Monitors Work?

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Heart rate monitors work similarly to EKGs in that they measure the electrical activity produced by the heart. Find out how the leads on a heart rate monitor pick up electrical activity with information from a cardiologist in this free video on cardiology and the heart.

Part of the Video Series: Cardiology Information
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Video Transcript

Hi my name is Eric Frischhertz and I am a cardiologist in Austin, Texas with Capital Cardio Vascular Specialists and I'm here to answer the question of how do heart rate monitors work? Heart rate monitors work similar to the way that an EKG works which is that they measure the electrical activity that is produced by the heart. Every time the heart beats the beat is caused by electrical activation of all the cells in the heart which beat essentially all at once and electrodes on the skin are similar to an EKG can pick up electrical activity and transmit it to a monitor which indicates if an EKG is a computer or in the case of a heart rate monitor there is a computer that you wear on your wrist. So heart rate monitors have a strap that goes across the chest with two leads that pick up the electrical activity of the heart, transmit it to the wrist monitor and let you know what your heart rate is at the time that your heart is beating and that is how a heart rate monitor works.

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