Open the appropriate app. Take a finger and touch the top of your wrist watch. Hold this for 30-seconds while electrodes on the back of the watch detect electrical signals from your heart and looks for rhythm abnormalities.
This is how the Apple Watch Series 4 can reportedly help spot problems, such as atrial fibrillation where the heart quivers or beats faster.
“This erratic heart action can lead to blood pooling in one of the upper chambers with blood clots forming and potentially leading up to a stroke,” says McLeod Electrophysiologist Dr. Rajesh Malik. “The good news is that, if these so-called ‘wearables’ work properly, people may be made aware earlier of a heart problem.”
As of early 2019, here’s several devices on the market and their capabilities.
APPLE WATCH SERIES 4
Garnering the most publicity, Apple’s watch unveiled in late 2018 is promoted by the company for its ability to perform an Electrocardiogram (ECG), detect atrial fibrillation (afib) and recognize when a heart rate is too slow. Apple literature notes that the watch it is not for people already diagnosed with afib. Nor can detect heart attacks or strokes.
Utilizing optical heart rate sensors, this well-known fitness tracker is exploring its use to collect data and detect afib. To capture reliable readings, the company says a person must be stationary or asleep.
HUAMI’s HEALTH BAND 1S
Only available in China, this wrist wearable claims to be able to monitor the user’s heart rate rhythm and send an alert if it senses an arrhythmia. As with all these devices, Huami’s requires FDA approval before it can go on sale in the United States.
This less than $300 device claims not only to detect heart rate anomalies and alert the wearer but also notify emergency contacts and pinpoint the location via GPS if the wearer doesn’t respond.
The current state of wearable heart monitors is probably best summed up by C. Michael Valentine, president of the American College of Cardiology, “The idea that wearables can be used by both patients and their health care providers to manage and improve heart health holds promise (but) should also be approached with caution.”
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Sources include: McLeod Health, Washington Post, Scripps Research Translational Institute, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, Wired, Journal of the American Medical Association – Cardiology