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Entries in Quantitative Self (2)


Basis Sciences Wrist Heart Rate Monitor: Insight about your heart

I just started using the Basis wrist HRM, a device I have been wanting for decades for! All of us who are trying to understand just what is going on with our hearts and how it affects angina, shortness of breath, and overall performance makes this a truly insightful and useful necessity. As a 2x (heart attack, bypass patient, and pacemaker) user this is really useful.

Basis simply samples heart rate and records it 24x7 along with steps, skin temperature, perspiration, and a caloric output plus sleep. The Basis software on the PC is just great and generates a number of interactive reports or displays where you can look for insight. Unlike the various strap based monitors with wrist connections via ant or BT, combined with their flaky software, ability for data ingestion, etc. Basis just works!

If you really need incite, this is a great device to supplement my all I want is to have their two data silos combined... but that's another story and probably another decade. BTW: the two devices tend to agree on calories, unlike the plethora of wrist pedometers who try but just don't have enogh data to be as accurate. 

For example, here's a Daily Summary…


August 21 Full day of calorie output and heart rate vs time.


Interepreting a piece of a day

Went to a meeting at 10am  stopping for a croissant, waited for warming it, and then high HR as I ate (a no-no) and walked at about 10:15. Lawyer’s office 10:30 -11:45, then to lunch arriving just before 12. Note two HR spikes in meeting—a couple of disagreements.  Interestingly,  meeting was quite calm compared to the meetings I used to have every day at Digital when I ran R&D in 1972-1983--before I had a heart attack  in Feb 1983. I can only imagine what was going on heartwise!

Patterns is a way to compare HR or other activity parameter across days.


The pacemaker reports I get semi-annually that records every heart beat and dumps it into rate buckets for a distribution are intersting on a long term basis and may predict stufff e.g. EoL.  However, no one or no computer looks at them other than to eyeball whether you are totally sedentary. Just giving the avg BPM over 6 months is useful (I think).


Personal Health Tracking: Devices & Experience in Quantified Self (QS) Lifelogging

I'm one of the several thousand organized in about 100 meetup groups who are quantifying there selves, mostly for non-narcissist, self health and wellness benefit, for an overview, see  As part of this a number of physicians have created groups who are willing to track to understand various anonomolies e.g. diabetes, heart disease.

As a trackee with a SF physican managed by his quantifying coach, my goal is to understand the behavior of my heart, having had two (heart attacks, bypasses, and pacemakers). In doing this, I hope to understand the conditions for the onset of angina pain at various times when I exert myself too rapidly.

Here are the devices I use and parameters tracked in m first two weeks, ended 1 November 2012:

  1. BodyTrack site operated at Carnegie Mellon University that holds my data from various other sites. This provides many tracks that I use to impute cause and effect. Download for free, coupling it to BodyMedia, Zeo, and Mymee
  2. BodyMedia armband that captures energy expenditure via heatfux, steps, lying/sleeping, plus manual entry of other parameters that you pay to upload. This is a must have device.
  3. Fitbit provides a useful approximation to BodyMedia but at no monthly cost.
  4. Zeo sleep tracker (I have one, but am not bothering with it since BodyMedia captures sleep
  5. SweetWaterHRV aka SweetBeat heart rate variability (HRV). Requires iStuff (not Mac on tiny iPods)  Intersting stress metric--so just try it.
  6. Mymee -- a tool that allows manual entry of particular data about my exercises that BodyTrack plots: weight, food input, exercise (walk, swim, row), angina pain level, shortness of breath, HRV, and overall daily.
  7. Other metrics or monitors that may be useful: weight, blood pressure, lung capacity (spirometer), consumer oriented 24 x 7 heart rate monitor aka Holter monitor,  glucose

What I have learned about my heart in conjunction with my doctors:

  1. Its complicated
  2. Skipping a day of Lipitor and other medication does affect me. Maybe missing beta blockers does, but I need to run an experiment.
  3. Exercise is more important than I thought--its critical. E.g. after one terrble day with pain, ending with swimming, the next 5 days starting with a record breaking swim were pain free. Conclusion I have to exercise every day.  Swimming is best for me because of the constant, forced, breathing regime.
  4. NOT SO FAST. After those 5 great days, the next couple of days I had angina pains. Was it a warmer day, or is it lung overload, the phlegm coming from pollen or what?
  5. My Sydney doctor says I can skip one day a week--she also told me to always walk with nitro--something that I don't want to admit to because it is just one step closer to EOL.
  6. Conclusions: Exercise 6 days a week, use something to reduce or eliminate anything that could be affecting breathing (Lung Flute helps), and check the weather (cold weather in SF is heavy, causes a breathing problem as does, humidity etc.) and then there's diet and digestion .
  7. My heart seems to be on that knife edge that can go either way when weather, sleep, exercise history, diet, etc. tips the balance.
  8. Its complicated