Apple Watch furthers health wearables with new ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notification
Apple Watch Series 4 owners will now be able to monitor their heart's rhythm by installing the newest software update, the tech company announced on Thursday.
In an announcement made via the Apple Newsroom, the company said the new ECG (electrocardiography, also commonly abbreviated as EKG) app on the watch model "marks the first direct-to-consumer product that enables customers to take an electrocardiogram right from their wrist," allowing users to collect heart rhythm data. The app is set to be of particular interest to users who are interested in detecting or monitoring symptoms like a rapid or skipped heartbeat, providing the wearer with possibly meaningful information they can then give to their doctor for further analysis.
All information from the ECG app will be stored in the Heath app of the wearer's iPhone.
In addition, Apple said the irregular rhythm notification feature on older watches can now also check heart rhythms on an occasional basis through the software update, sending a notification if an irregular heart rhythm that could be atrial fibrillation (or AFib) is detected.
As a result of years worth of talks with the Food and Drug Administration, Apple has earned its new app and notification update De Novo classification, allowing the features to be available over the counter.
This development marks the latest step in the growing popularity of sensor-laden, health-tracking wearables, a trend previously indicated by recent International Data Corporation reports.
According to Apple, the ECG app’s ability to accurately perform was validated in a clinical trial of around 600 participants. However, while both the app and update are interesting steps in the development of health monitoring wearables, medical experts typically agree that these technologies are helpful tools, not a substitute for a doctor.
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