Every Heart Beat
heart rate / cardiovascular
Gordon Bell has had two heart attacks, two bypasses, and he is currently on his third pacemaker. In this talk, he shares his experience with tracking his heart beat using his pacemaker. He also shares what he has learned from his pacemaker data.
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Thank you. Now I had just gotten to the point where I thought that I was doing and it was beginning to get interesting to me and maybe I can share that with you. so I had kind of been speculating the other day, actually with my cardiologist to and I said – who is also an MIT engineering graduate and say, gee, can we account for every heartbeat, that is beat by beat for whatever we do.
And so I had been fortunate enough to have a tracking device called a pacemaker that gives me every heartbeat so I know a little bit about when it beats or how often it beats. And as an engineer and a futurist, I’m here really speculating on what’s going to happen with the 24/7 heart monitoring, which we’re just starting.
So right now, I walk into the cardiology department, and actually I convinced them to use the tracking device, beat by beat tracking devices too but we had no idea of what’s going to happen or what that means if you can track every heartbeat and when it occurs. And I speculate that in another – I didn’t mean 2015 I mean 2025. It’ll take a decade before we have any idea of what’s going on.
I’ll show you all of my wiggly curves, and I have got to confess I have no idea of what they mean.
Size really matters on instrumentation. Here’s an early ECG, so in this bath, a salt water bath and all that around it’s a little bit hard. It got better, actually a decade ago with our friends from Body Media, and to me that’s probably still the best. Body Media was a strap; it’s still probably the best device out there. Of course, they were bought by somebody. I would have tried to get my company, Microsoft to buy them if I had known they were available.
But things have really gone downhill I’d say since then. We’ve really been stagnant until these later devices are doing sensing heartrate. Here you see a fully instrumented nerd. I’ve got to confess, I’m really a nerd want to be. I don’t think I’m nerd enough and I want more nerdness than I have. You can’t be too nerdy as far as I’m concerned.
Anyway, I’ve tried a lot of devices and when we say heart rate, I think the next day we’ll heart rate variability, so I’ve tried and used all these devices.
And my own background, why the heart matters to me is I think it’s until my new pacemaker, I thought my heart was going to be my end of life, that it was going to control the end of life. Now I think maybe cancer or something else. But anyway, I’ve had a couple of heart attacks, couple of bypasses. I’m on my third pacemaker that was put in, in September that i was very wary about because I have a lot of wires in there. And I said, hey, what are you going to do with those wires? Well, we leave them in there and we’re going to put more wire there.
And I had looked at my chest a couple of times and I thought, do you have room for that, so that was quite a thrill to be on the table for about four hours, and hear them say, how are you guys coming? Have you got that other wire in there yet or not, so put more wires in.
But anyway, I love my new pacemaker. It’s really made all the difference to my health.
Anyway, the conjecture is that we should be able to know or account for every heartbeat if we know and hear all the different things said, and I can only talk about a few.
Anyway what I did was I had two observations. One was observing the average daily heartrate for every heartbeat for every six months. When I went for readouts over about five years and then pacemaker histograms, and the recent one is, I have 320 days of average heartrate and step count, and all the other stuff you get from Basis. And I thought then a kind of a speculation of what you people may start to do with that and what will happen when we finally – I’m really speculating. What’s this really going to be like when you have a product, and I believe the Apple watch will be the crowning thing. There’s going to be applications like you wouldn’t believe and then it’ll take a decade to make sense out of all this stuff.
Anyway, what I learned from my six month pacemaker. I talked to my cardiologist, I said goddammit, a beats a really important thing, because I observed that when I spend half the time or as much time that I can in Australia, and I had noticed that when I was not there at all, gee I was up a beat in a quarter, and I’d say this heart rate doesn’t meet very much, and I was envious when I saw 50 because I believe that we only have so many heart – I’m from the school of where we only have so many heartbeats in our life and I really ration those out.
And then I noticed things were starting to creep up a couple of days, so I had a little cancer that they detected and cut out, and then that wasn’t good enough, and it went someplace and then I had a spectroscopy and my urethra was cut out along with a kidney. But that was all because my injection fraction had gone to hell. Namely it had no pumping and that required this extra set of leads and a new pacemaker.
So from all of that I was concluding, really concluded that location and stress really is an important factor in long term in looking at what’s going on with your heart. So this was a way of me finding that out. And to me it was a point and a half, and I since convinced the doctors there that that really matters if you really knew what those numbers are.
And now this last one is I’ up to 320 days on that and this is the average daily heartrate versus steps and I call that my measles chart, and that’s step count with a variable exercise, and it isn’t very much of a variable in determining heartrate. And here’s my 320 days, and there are a couple of 10 day, 20 day moving averages on that, so it wiggles around. I was getting very alarmed in January, it started creeping up and I said what the hell’s happening. And of course it was turning very cold and my wife has the apartment at 65 and I like it at maybe 72 or so and so there’s little wiggle there. And this wonderful downward slope now is really the weather kicking in and I can see the same effects on a daily basis when I take off, when you start walking or you’re in a hurry and the cold’s stimulating you and ask th pacemaker to deliver more beats, and you get more beats there and you start getting out of breathe, and all hell breaks loose and you’re sort of winding your way down and have to stop; not a good thing.
So in all of this thing I had had changes in medication, couple of vacations. My wife guaranteed a new dog that was going to make my heartrate go down. That was on July 1. The dog arrived, and then I have a steady climb from about 68 as an average up to 75, and wondering when is this going to stop. Is it that dog doing it.
We went on vacation. I went sick for four days, that shows up with these little blips, so all of these things show up very plainly when you sort of look at the moving averages and trends, and even looking at the averages and trends I think help drive them on way or another. Then specifically, my wife and I walked to a lawyer’s office. It wasn’t a particularly contentious lawyer thing. I got excited there with her and that spiked 110 or something like that. and then I had an altercation with the lawyer and that spiked there. But these lawyers can accept whatever I say at the price that they charge, but anyway, that kind of typical of a day.
This was the effect of really an alarming thing. I maybe had five, six ounces of wine three times a week. Anyway, we had a party on a Friday evening, and here’s the 60 to 80 range where I like to see my heart being, and this is from midnight to midnight that we’re looking at. And then there was a kind of a spike here, and then a little activity and people went home, and I was probably doing the dishes then. And then the heartrate starts to climb up, and above 80 is a kind of an average, and then the next day with that amount of wine I thought, gee, that’s different than I normally have.
I then went back and calibrated how much – gee we only had three bottle of wine and there were only four of us drinking and I’ve got to take some of the responsibility for that wine, and so the amount of time it takes to dissipate that wine really took more than a day on that. Then the following day it starts to move back into my zone. So that’s kind of a simple observation.
Today was another thing. There was an important decision coming up that I had. I went to sleep, woke up about three and I had to get up and really think about that thing and run some numbers. It was a big investment decision and that took about an hour and I went back to sleep. Then everything was very nice and my wife and I had lunch together, had some win with lunch, just a glass and it went up at lunch and between these two walks here and that spike and it’s coming down at it’s probably 80 or so now.
So I’ve got a Microsoft band and a Basis watch to keep all of that. And so anyway that’s what I know or don’t know about heartrate. It’s kind of interesting and I’m looking forward to finding somebody who really understands this stuff. We can all wear this stuff as consumers and it’ll make for a healthy life.