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Apple Watch Health Accessory Performs ECG Readings

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 11 Dec 2017
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Image: A sensor on the strap of an Apple SmartWatch can record ECGs (Photo courtesy of AliveCor).
Image: A sensor on the strap of an Apple SmartWatch can record ECGs (Photo courtesy of AliveCor).
A novel accessory for the Apple (Cupertino, Ca, USA) Watch allows users to discreetly capture their electrocardiogram (ECG) anytime, anywhere, in order to quickly detect normal sinus heart rhythms and atrial fibrillation (AF).

The AliveCor (San Francisco, CA, USA) KardiaBand is based on a sensor built into a dedicated Apple Watch strap. The user first places a finger onto the sensor in the strap. It then performs a single point ECG to assess whether the electrical impulses that modulate cardiac contractions are firing properly. The resulting 30-second waveform is shown on the Apple Watch screen, after which the user can share it with their doctor as a PDF document. The system also includes the SmartRhythm machine learning algorithms, which sift through data gathered by Apple Watch’s sensors to monitor heart rate and activity.

When SmartRhythm detects that heart rate and activity are out of synchronization, the device notifies users they should capture an ECG. KardiaBand requires a subscription to the AliveCor Premium service for USD 99 a year, which includes SmartRhythm Apple Watch notifications; unlimited ECG recordings; automatic detection of AF or normal sinus rhythm; unlimited ability to send ECG readings via email; unlimited cloud history and reporting of all ECGs ever taken; weight and medication tracking; and a monthly paper report on readings taken each calendar month.

“KardiaBand paired with SmartRhythm technology will be life-changing for people who are serious about heart health,” said Vic Gundotra, CEO of AliveCor. “These capabilities will allow people to easily and discreetly check their heart rhythms when they may be abnormal, capturing essential information to help doctors identify the issue and inform a clear path of care to help manage atrial fibrillation, a leading cause of stroke and other serious conditions.”

“This is a paradigm shift for cardiac care as well as an important advance in healthcare. Today, ECGs are available only in offices and hospitals, using complex equipment, and usually only after a life threatening event, for example a stroke,” said Professor Ronald Karlsberg, MD, of Cedars Sinai Heart Institute (Los Angeles, CA, USA). “With an ECG device on the wrist, AF can be detected wherever the patient is, 24 hours a day. KardiaBand is a giant leap in personalized health care.”

The Apple Watch is a smartwatch with infrared (IR) and visible-light light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and photodiodes in a set of four rings built into the back, which are used to measure the wearer's pulse. The watch also includes an accelerometer for tracking movement, and a linear actuator for haptic feedback. Integrated appsinclude many built-in health features in order to provide users a complete picture of physical and nutritional activity. Other features include beaming social messages, displaying maps, simplified apps, and, of course, telling the time.

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