Tag Archives: heart

Maggie Delano on ECG and Activity Tracking

“I wanted to see what I could find when I tracked my electrocardiogram over time.”

Maggie Delano developed a wearable ECG and activity monitor as part of her masters thesis at MIT. She decided to test it out on herself to see what she could find out about her daily activities and her sleep. What she found out surprised her. Watch her talk to hear what she learned and be sure to stick around for the engaging Q&A that follows. (slides are also posted here.)

We’ll be posting videos from our 2013 Global Conference during the next few months. If you’d like see talks like this in person we invite you to join us in Amsterdam for our 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference on May 10 and 11th.

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Mark Leavitt on Tracking and Hacking Sitting

There is nothing quite like having to unexpectedly deal with your own mortality. Mark Leavitt experienced that “wake up call” when he spent Thanksgiving in 2007 at a cardiac cath lab. While he didn’t have a heart attack, he left with 3 stints and new outlook. He decided to take a hard look at his “comfortable life” and see what he could change. After a successful diet and exercise regimen helped him lost 35 pounds he found himself slowly re-gaining weight. What happened next was amazing. Watch this great talk and Q&A to learn how he tracked and hacked his computer time to make it a much healthier endeavor.

This talk was filmed at our 2012 Quantified Self Global Conference. We hope that you’ll join us this year for our 2013 Conference where we’ll have great talks, sessions, and discussions that cover the wide range of Quantified Self topics. Registration is now open so make sure to get your ticket today!

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Mark Drangsholt on Tracking a Heart Rhythm Disorder

Dr. Mark Drangsholt is a long-time self-tracker who also teaches evidence-based medicine at the University of Washington. He has tracked blood pressure and exercise, atrial fibrillation and what triggers it, deep sleep and sex, diet and body fat. In the video below, Mark shares what he learned about his arrhythmia triggers, and how his self-tracking data helped sway his cardiologist to do a less invasive procedure. He also makes a great case that Quantified Self experiments can be more scientifically valid than many of his colleagues would like to admit. (Filmed by the Seattle QS Show&Tell meetup group.)

Mark Dangsholt – QS Tracking; an example using a heart rhythm disorder from David Reeves on Vimeo.

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Heart Monitors and the Limit of Self-Knowledge

HerophilusClock.jpgThe heart rate is among the earliest biometrics used by humans to take stock of themselves. Before mechanical clocks were invented, this was hard. The first doctor credited with making objective measurements of the pulse was an Alexandrian physician named Herophilos, from the 3rd century, B.C., who used a water clock as his chronometer. Using a specified outflow of water to set the time interval, he counted the heart beats of four healthy individuals of different ages, which gave him a base rate against which to compare the pulse of his patients. Genius!

It’s easier to find our heart rate now. In fact, it’s so easy it’s become complicated again. What you used to be able to do with two fingers and a second hand now requires a cardiac monitor, sometimes with a chest strap and a wireless connection to the wearable computer on your wrist. These complications are associated with bigger benefits; we can correlate our heart rate with our exercise regime, for instance. There are more than 700 heart rate monitors listed on Amazon.
Many of the best monitors require a chest strap. Why not just put this in our clothing? The one pictured below is from Numetrex.

Pacing exercise is just one of the things we might want to do with data about the rhythm of our heart. The pattern of the heart beat is a clue to health, and, ideally, it would be tracked all the time. For monitoring serious conditions, how about if we move the monitor from our wrist or our clothing, and put it inside our body? The image below is of a tiny cardiac monitor the size of a small memory stick. It is implanted in a patient’s chest, and recorded measurements can be picked up from the outside.
As we generate more data, the patterns become too complex for our brains to recognize. ECG measurements have to be read by trained physicians. Or by artificial intelligences. While reporting an upcoming story in Wired about the great inventor Ray Kurzweil, who is best known for his reading machine and his theory of the singularity, I found how that his company has also been involved in researching the use of artificial intelligence for the interpretation of ECG. His friend Martine Rothblatt, the founder of United Therapeutics hired Kurzweil’s company to contribute some improvements to the algorithm underlying CardioPal, a 24/7 cardiac monitoring system designed to provide early warning of arrhythmias. CardioPal is produced by Medicomp, a United Therapeutics subsidiary. The underlying algorithm is named Diogenes.
Diogenes.pngThere is a lot of interesting science behind the interpretation of ECG, and it is easy to imagine a not-too-distant era when internal cardiac monitors are a normal health maintenance device, automatically warning of impending problems. The curious thing about this vision of a totally monitored future is that the algorithms that interpret data from these monitors inevitably becomes more and more complex, easily outstripping our capacity for unaided interpretation. We will get a warning of impending doom, but not fully understand why this warning is issued. We will gain more power over ourselves, but not more self-understanding. Maybe we have to adjust our idea of who we are. The artificial intelligence upon which we rely – can this be understood as part of our self?

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