The Apple Watch is getting an important new feature for monitoring heart health

“When Apple Watch was first released in 2015, it came with a built-in basic heart rate monitor,” Christina Farr reports for CNBC. “That pushed Apple into the health care sector, as users started reaching out to the company with stories about how the device had saved their life.”

“Now, the company is expected to take these health ambitions a step further by introducing an electrocardiogram or ‘ECG’ sensor that measures the heart’s rhythm — and not just the heart rate,” Farr reports. “Apple releasing an ECG is a big deal for people with certain diseases. But it’s also complicated because the company would need to figure out how to communicate sensitive medical information to consumers without freaking them out. The last thing Apple would want to do with its device is send tens of thousands of anxious users into the emergency room thinking they’re having a life-threatening medical problem when they’re not.”

“Will Apple need approval from federal regulators? It depends. If Apple shows the ECG reading to a consumer, then yes. That would make the Apple Watch a regulated medical device,” Farr reports. “But Vic Gundotra, CEO of AliveCor, a start-up making big waves in the space, sees another path. He suggests that the company could use the ECG to get more accurate heart rate data, which wouldn’t necessarily require an approval process. ”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple Watch is about to save countless more lives!

Ming-Chi Kuo: New iPad Pros to go USB-C, Touch ID on new MacBook, all Apple Watch Series 4 models get EKG and ceramic backs – September 10, 2018
How Apple Watch saved my life – September 10, 2018
AliveCor’s Kardiaband EKG reader becomes first Apple Watch accessory to win FDA approval as a medical device – November 30, 2017

1 Comment

  1. We’re talking about Atrial Fibrillation here. You heart goes into a mode where one of the many muscles stops resting during a heartbeat cycle. An ECG will catch this (12 electrodes attahced to your chest at the doctor office).

    One symptom that you are in this mode is a high heart rate when at rest. There is a feature in my Apple Watch series3 where, if I am sitting (not moving) for 10 minutes and my heart rate is “high” (greater than a preset threshold such as 100bpm, then you get an alarm. That’s a great feature. But only a symptom.

    If Apple could put even a 1 channel ECG they could pick up that last bit of information – the muscle not resting (a trained technician would normally have to look at an ECG to notice the “non rest” bump in the readout.

    A company called Kardia makes an Apple Watch band with a built in ECG — but it is costly and has no sensor (you have to hold your thumb on the wristband and let it send the info via bluetooth to the watch. One of Kardia’s cheaper devices is the Alivecor KardiaMobile that works with your phone (<$100). That device picked up that my own heart had gone into Atrial Fibrillation. I carry that device in the glove box. How great it would be if the Apple Watch could do that for me.

    I asked a friend who is a cardiologist what he would do if he wanted to monitor me for an outbreak of Atrial Fibrillation. He mentioned writing a medical device prescription for a specialty company to rent equipment (including 24/7 monitoring) involving an ECG chest strip. "Typically about $5000 for 2-3 weeks". That would pay for a lot of Apple Watches..

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