When I first started testing the new Apple Watch Series EKG feature – available on Thursday, free of chargesoftware upgrades – the last thing I expected was finding something unusual about my heartbeat. But that's what happened when I passed the reader's readings with medical equipment from the ECG to the doctor's office.
"We see Apple Watch the very early heartbeat we see on the EKG," said Dr. Gregory Markus, professor of medicine and cardiac electrophysiologist at the UCSF Medical Center, while sitting on the hospital bed with cables attached to my body and the Apple Watch Watch Series 4 on my wrist.
"These early blows are very common … but they can cause long-term problems, so we have to talk a little more about it," he added.
Heart rate tracking has always been a big part of Apple's monitoring devices and fitness tools in general. But so far it has been used primarily for him,
With the Update for Watch OS 5.1.2, heart rate will play a more important role for Apple Watch as we get access to the two new features cleared by the FDA that Apple announced in its September talk. There is a signal of abnormal heart rhythm for all Apple watches, except for the first-generation model, as well as an ECG or ECG that is exclusive to Series 4. Both can help to alert you to potentially life-threatening cardiac conditions.
Heart rate measurement
Heart rate monitoring is not new to wear. Smartwatches and fitness trackers have been using LEDs and optical backsensors for years to measure changes in blood flow beneath the surface of your skin, your known pulse. When the heart beats, more blood is absorbed into the blood vessels, absorbing more light. Between the beats, when there is less blood, more light is reflected back into the receivers of the clock.
In 2017, Apple Watch became active on how it used heart rate by adding high heart rate signals to the clock, allowing users to see when their hearts had risen above a certain level and later added low heart rate signals . These notifications have already been made,
But the heart rate only measures the beats per minute or the frequency of heart rhythm over time, not the patterns between any rhythm known as heart rhythm.
"You can have a regular rhythm that is very fast or too slow … And similarly, there may be an irregular rhythm that is at a normal rate that is too fast or too slow," said Dr. Marcus.
With the new rhythm notification, Apple Watch uses the optical heart rate sensor to alert users when it detects an incorrect model that may be AFb, a type of arrhythmia that may increase the risk of stroke and other serious heart complications . This feature will only work for adults over the age of 22 and will not help if you are already diagnosed with AFib.
Apple Watch's EKG
In order to make a definitive diagnosis, the physician needs more information than what the impulse can provide.
"Sometimes these strokes are so early that the heart has not had enough time to fill, although electric could have an early beating that's going on," said Dr. Marcus. "We would like to have an electrical confirmation of the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation before we decide to act on it, not to base it on the whole, just on the pulse record," he added.
This is where the ECG enters. The ECG uses electrodes to measure the electrical activity of the heart. A hospital grade ECG usually consists of 10 electrodes placed on different parts of your body. While the Apple Watch Series 4 has two: One electrode on the back crystal and one electrode on the digital crown.
"This 12-wk ECG shows what's happening electrically in the heart from 12 different viewpoints or in 12 different directions, while Apple Watch gives you the same electrical activity but actually one way," explains Dr. Mark.
While watching my monitor, I opened the new ECG application (Apple uses the ECG abbreviation while doctors generally say ECG) of the Apple Watch Series 4 to take away my first ECG. I put my finger on the digital crown and waited until the screen dropped to 30 seconds. Apple Watch classifies your heartbeat as AFib, sinus rhythm or unconvincing. My result: unconvincing.
The Apple Watch notice also said I should contact my doctor if I do not feel well or if I continue to get the same result. Users can share these results as a PDF with their doctors, but fortunately my doctor stood next to me.
The Apple Watch ECG coincided directly with the results of the hospital ECG, Dr. Mark, which was printed. Between the lower chamber of my heart there were interrupted early blows.
"It would be really helpful to check this out or have the first understanding that you have these early heart attacks," said Dr. Marcus. "What's missing in Apple's only lead is the information that tells us exactly where it comes from."
More information is equal to the faster results
Dr. Marcus says I'm probably not going to die because of what he found on my ECG, but he wants me to see to track my early heart rate, something I probably would not have caught without such a test . And for people with more severe heart disease, this can help doctors make a quicker diagnosis and allow them to deal with the problem earlier.
"Some people feel it when they have atrial fibrillation, but many people do not, so there is hope that we can find those people who otherwise did not know they had atrial fibrillation," said Dr. Marcus.
Apple Watch is the only direct consumer device with built-in ECG. But there are other devices like Alivecor's FDA, which have cleared KardiaMobile and KardiaBand for Apple Watch, which give users access to ECG outside the doctors' office. The Japanese view competitors such as Garmin and Fitbitas more technology companies as a way to breathe new life into being.
"The opposite is that we admit that there is a risk of false positive results that can cause unnecessary anxiety," said Dr. Marcus.
The Irregular Heart Rate message is now available for all Apple watches that begin with Series 1 and can be set in the Heart section of the Watch app. The ECG application is only available for the Apple Watch Series 4 and is only available in the US, although Apple expects to receive regulatory approval for this feature in other countries later on.
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