Smartwatch Band Can Help Detect Heart Problems, But Doctors Still Required

These days, there are a lot of gadgets that can be used to keep track of your health or detect certain ailments without needing to go to a medical facility all the time. What’s quite impressive is that you can even do that with a smartwatch!

A recent study suggests that a smartwatch band can successfully detect heart problems in wearers; however, doctors are still required to make the final diagnosis, of course.

Using an FDA-approved smartwatch heart rhythm monitor called the AliveCor KardiaBand and a traditional ECG machine the same as the one used in doctors’ offices and hospitals, researchers compared ECG test results for 200 study subjects. The band is designed to work with Apple smartwatches.

While the smartwatch band had an accuracy of only 55% in predicting that the patient has atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm irregularity, it was surprisingly accurate at predicting which people did not have the condition as it was right about 98% of the time!

Based on these findings, at this stage it would be recommended that healthcare professionals remain an integral part of the use of such technology in order to avoid unnecessary treatment and anxiety. Although there is potential for population screening for atrial fibrillation and monitoring atrial fibrillation burden in those already diagnosed, at this stage, further studies are required to define the precise role of these devices within the healthcare system,” wrote Dr. Kevin Rajakariar, the lead study author from Box Hill Hospital and Monash University in Victoria, Australia.

How It Works

The wearable band can take ECGs and detect certain heart problems when the person put it on the wrist of one hand and place a finger from the opposite hand on an electrode found on top of the band. The action creates a circuit with the electrode set at the back of the watch that is in contact with the skin.

If found accurate, these devices can help patients have peace of mind that they are well and won’t be needing blood thinners to lower the risk of more complicated health issues. However, the researchers also warn that this might also produce a false positive and give the patient unnecessary worries. Still, this can be used for patients who have intermittent episodes of atrial fibrillation.

They suggest that once the patient receives a positive result, they should immediately go to a doctor to confirm the results.

What’s an ECG?

An ECG or electrocardiography is the process of producing a recording of the electrical activity of the heart using electrodes placed on the skin.