Samsung’s ECG app got approved in South Korea during May 2020 and received FDA approval in the US the same year in September 2020. Following this, the Samsung Health Monitor app received a CE-marking in December 2020, which enabled the monitoring service to expand to 28 European countries.
Although Samsung’s ECG app does a great job in tracking your heart rate, performing an ECG reading and detecting irregular heartbeats and related arrhythmia such as Afib, there is no easy way to track down your heart rate variability (HRV) using the ecosystem.
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Why track heart rate variability (HRV)?
The HRV metric has been growing in popularity over the past few years, given its importance to not only elite athletes but also users who want to track their stress levels, their recovery scores following an intense workout or want to know if they are coming down with an infection and more.
Other wearables such as the Fitbit, Apple Watch, Oura ring, and WHOOP make the HRV available at your fingertips via several reports.
So, we researched how Samsung Galaxy Watch users can avail themselves of this very important metric and found that there aren’t too many options.
HRV Tracker App from BIPR
The HRV Tracker app, made available from the French app maker BIPR offers an alternative to Samsung Galaxy Watch users.
The simple app allows you to schedule HRV readings on your Galaxy Watch. Since it is important that a reading is taken at least on a daily basis, you can schedule your HRV read time according to your preference. The app suggests that you take your HRV reading first thing every morning when you get up.
The HRV Tracker app maintains the history of your daily HRV readings and provides you with some basic trend analysis.
Unlike the Apple Watch HRV monitoring, this app does not automatically track your HRV. You will not be able to see hourly trends or trends co-relating to your exercise schedule unless you manually take an HRV reading.
The developer is currently adding new features to the HRV tracker app, and we hope that it evolves into a more sophisticated offering since it costs money to download the app.
Another solid app to track your HRV on Samsung Galaxy Watch is the Welltory app. This app supports both Tizen and Wear OS Samsung watches, and you can sync data to Samsung Health or Google Fit.
Samsung Stress score is based on underlying HRV Values
Currently, the way you monitor your HRV on Samsung Galaxy Watch is via stress level monitoring which is HRV based.
If you own the Galaxy Watch Active 2/3 or the Wear OS Galaxy Watch 4/5, you can get your continuous stress scores using the Samsung Health app.
Stress management techniques work by measuring the activities/arousal of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), where high arousal is considered a sign of stress.
For example, the arousal of ANS leads to changes in physiology that may be easily measured via changes in heart rate, skin conductance, blood pressure, respiration, and brain wave patterns via electroencephalography (EEG).
Stress measurement techniques on smartwatches such as the Galaxy watch rely on the measurement of heart-rate variability (HRV). Measurements of HRV may be based on time-domain analysis or frequency-domain analysis.
Although most of the Stress detection literature made available on Samsung Patents discusses how HRV can be used to measure stress, the company has, for some reason, decided not to provide explicit HRV readings to Galaxy Watch users and instead has made a proprietary “Stress Score” available.
The Galaxy Watch also uses HRV in the background to calculate your REM sleep scores.
Samsung’s Partnership with HeartMath
Samsung licensed HeartMath’s normative HRV database, which contains thousands of healthy male and female subjects across an age range of approximately 5 to 80 years of age. All of the data was collected under the same conditions.
According to HeartMath, the high standard makes it an ideal representation of HRV baselines for use in stress level assessments in Samsung Health.
Unfortunately, when you download your Samsung Health data, you can see the heart rate information but not the RR intervals that are required to calculate HRV.
Alternative Setup using chest monitor and Kubios
If you are trying to get HRV readings from your Samsung Galaxy Watch, you can try out the HRV tracker app. Given that the developer is still fine-tuning the app, you may want to explore an alternative setup.
Use the Samsung Galaxy Watch to monitor your blood pressure and ECG regularly, and use a chest strap monitor when you are conducting your intense workouts.
You can invest in a Polar H7 or H10 chest band and then pipe the data into Kubios, which provides free HRV analysis software and is trusted by researchers.
It’s only a matter of time before Samsung releases a method via which users will be able to directly track HRV and HRV trends on their Galaxy Watch, given that they are already capturing RR intervals and computing these values in the background, and co-relating it with HRV data from HeartMath for Stress score calculations.