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16 May 2012
The SweetBeat App for the iPhone and iPad has the ability to measure stress reduction as a result of acupuncture treatments. This App measures both the heart rate and HRV (heart rate variability). HRV measures the change in time interval between heart beats and is an index of the body’s ability to maintain control of the heart beat rate and rhythm through vagus nerve activity. Reduced HRV is linked to mortality after myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure and diabetic neuropathy.
HRV and Health
New research on acupuncture points CV17 and Ear Shenmen shows that acupuncture benefits the heart by increasing heart rate variability (HRV). The SweetBeat App places a valuable measurement tool in the hands of the acupuncturist and the patient. Patients can measure HRV while walking, running, bicycling, at rest, before and after an acupuncture treatment, etc…. If the HRV dips unusually low, this is a serious indication of a potential cardiovascular disturbance. By contrast, the health benefits of a proper regime of dietary changes, exercise, relaxation techniques and acupuncture can be seen in an increase in HRV.
The SweetBeat App has many features including the ability to measure a person’s baseline level of stress. A visual readout is displayed and the user sees whether or not they are stressing their system. This can be invaluable for users who tend to overstress their bodies during workouts or through emotional stress. The App also has functions which allow the user to work on breathing evenly to reduce bodily stress. In addition, the user can save and track changes in HRV over time.
What we find incredibly valuable is the ability of this App to measure both HRV and heart rate. We like the stress indicator because it has an easy visual clue when to back-off from excessive exercise or emotional strain. To use this App, all one needs is a heart rate monitor strap and a dongle to transfer the information to an iPhone or iPad. For our review testing, we used a 60beat brand chest strap and receiver. The receiver plugs into the headphone jack and receives the 5.3KHz data from the chest strap.
How it Works
We simply put on the chest strap, plugged the receiver (dongle) into the iPhone (or iPad) and launched the SweetBeat App. For the initial use, SweetBeat asks the user to set a baseline level of heart performance to help in the analysis of mood and stress levels. The 60beat brand receiver works relatively well and is reliable up to about arms length. This worked well for our testing purposes because our users experimented with various workout speeds on a Stairmaster brand machine and arms length is ample.
We tested the device and find it very accurate. Both heart rate and HRV are highly responsive and SweetBeet is accurate to the tenths decimal place. As the user increases physical stress, the stress monitor tracked this performance issue with a colored bar graph. At first, we weren’t sure if the stress meter would be valuable. Once in a workout, however, the quick reference of the stress meter is nice addition. It gives valuable feedback without distracting the user from the workout.
This type of device helps the user learn about their heart. It can easily detect forms of heart disease and warns the user of excessive stress during exercise with its easy-to-read visual display. For athletes, sustained increases in HRV over time reflect higher performance levels and proper training. As a result, this is valuable for athletes in training as well as for those just beginning an exercise program. For users who are genuinely interested in tracking their cardiovascular health, we recommend this App. Heart disease is the number one killer worldwide and the SweetBeat App is an affordable tool to monitor one’s most important muscle- the heart.
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