Can your Smartwatch be your go-to health detection tool in future?

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In recent years, ‘health-centric’ smart wearables have transformed the likes of the tech and lifestyle market. Smartwatches and wristbands can detect your heartbeats and monitor your heart rates with utmost accuracy. Today, these smart wearable bands have turned into mini and portable ECG machines that can detect and warn users of risk situations and help them seek medical consultation at the earliest possible hour.

Do health and technology go hand in hand?

In 2018, Apple elevated the idea of ‘health-centric’ wearables to a new level with the launch of its Watch Series 4. The Watch 4 not only detected a low heart rate but also acted as an electrocardiogram (ECG). That means it could sense a dangerous condition known as an ‘Atrial Fibrillation’ and warn users to seek doctor’s consultation. Moreover, the Watch Series 4 became the first ‘over-the-counter’ ECG app directly offered to consumers (as claimed by Apple).

Fast-forward to 2022, Google’s Fitbit gained FDA approval for its upcoming feature that can passively monitor users’ heart rhythms. The feature periodically checks wearers’ heart rhythms and alerts them if they show signs of atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat that puts people at a higher risk for stroke.

Flagging Potential Issues

During the launch of Apple’s Watch Series 4, the tech giant invited American Heart Association President and cardiologist Dr. Ivor Benjamin onto the stage. Dr. Ivor remarked how valuable the feature is and quoted: “In my experience, people often report symptoms that are absent during their visits. That is why this information is vital.”

In 2020, Fitbit began testing the feature and found that it could correctly identify cases of atrial fibrillation 98% of the time. Neither Apple’s Watch Series 4 nor Google’s Fitbit can make a diagnosis. However, they can flag potential issues and suggest users talk to a doctor.

Can smartwatches replace ECG devices in the future?

Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is an irregular and often very rapid heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots in the heart. It increases the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. In fact, AFib increases a person’s risk of having a stroke five-fold, making it one of the leading causes of stroke.

ECG technology used in smartwatches is (often) remarked to be accurate. Initially, the Apple brand pioneered the technology and now other brands have followed the lead. When a user wears any of the devices, they receive an alert. This can significantly help users identify the signs and seek an early diagnosis for A-fib. Recent studies have proven that smartwatches are almost as accurate as implantable ECG devices. Moreover, they offer the added benefit of not requiring a medical procedure. Since smartwatches are convenient and offer an easier customer experience, they can seemingly replace ECG devices in the future.

Also Read: Facebook’s First Smartwatch to Debut by Summer



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